MAIMOUNA MBACKE ’20
Maimouna initially heard about Iona from a family friend. After researching the LaPenta School of Business and hearing about the extensive alumni network, Maimouna visited campus and fell in love with Iona. She is currently studying marketing and plans on minoring in entrepreneurship. On campus, Maimouna is the vice president of the Model United Nations team. She is also the vice president of Engagement and Communication for Iona College’s Entrepreneur Organization and holds a position on the student advisory board for the LaPenta School
of Business. She also writes for the “Ionavation” blog, hosts the “Ionavation” podcast and interns at the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “It is such a motivating and nurturing environment, and it has helped with identifying and learning how to leverage my skills,” said Maimouna.
Maimouna has also traveled to Europe, where she conducted research for Dr. Rasheda L. Weaver on the topic of social enterprises. She presented that research at the 2019 EMES Conference in London in June. Last year, she participated in the European Innovation Academy held in Turin, Italy, where she brought her startup idea, Generation Access, and received a top team award out of 360 participants.
JILLIAN CEA ’21MA
A graduate student working on her MA in mental health counseling, Jillian Cea ’21 utilizes her own experience with loss to support others who are going through the grieving process. Having lost her brother when she was 14 years old, Jillian attended a support group that not only helped her through the grieving process; it inspired her to launch Compassionate Journey, a bereavement group, in her hometown of City Island, N.Y.
“My community has had many losses. I knew some of these people very well, and I felt there was a lack of support for them. On July 10, I launched the first group on City Island. I called the group Compassionate Journey because grief is a journey, and I want to walk beside people through their journey. There has been such an outpouring of support for my group that it made me realize how much of a need there was for this,” said Jillian. She added, “To be able to help grieving individuals find comfort means so much to me.”
Jillian hopes to eventually start a private practice to help individuals going through various mental health problems. In the meantime, she is getting the most from her classes at Iona. “I love how my program has a small student-professor ratio,” she said. “I get a lot individual attention and support from my professors.”