Vincent McCarthy wins Fr. Conlisk Irish Scholarship to attend Fairfield University for an MS in Finance


Although he's a native of Ireland, Seán Maher will always associate the playing of Irish bagpipes with the time he spent in America.

Sean MaherThat's because he's heard them played more often during the year he's spent as a graduate student at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. than he did in Ireland. Irish people in America play the pipes to celebrate their heritage, Maher said. Cultural ironies are only a small part of the education Maher has received over the last year.

Maher was last year's recipient of the Fr. John M. Conlisk Scholarship at Fairfield University, which is awarded each year to an MBA or MS in Finance candidate from Ireland.

The scholarship pays full tuition, room and board, as well as medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to complete the degree, usually about three semesters since the students are attending full-time. The total grant generally amounts to between $40,000 and $50,000.

"Getting the MBA is a wonderful thing, but it's only half of what makes the scholarship so important," said Maher, who graduates in December. "It's great to learn about America and her people from the inside."

Vincent McCarthy, a student at the University of Limerick who is this year's recipient, will soon have that chance. "I am delighted to be able to pursue an MS in Finance at Fairfield University under the Conlisk scholarship," said McCarthy. "I feel that the greater specialization of an MS in Finance would equip me better to achieve my goal of a successful career in investment banking.

Vincent McCarthyMccarthy said he was impressed with Fairfield University's business school as well. "The geographical location in the U.S. and being part of the 25 percent of all business schools accredited by AACSB International, makes the Dolan School of Business an attractive choice," McCarthy said.

Kevin Conlisk, one of the principal owners of the Alinabal Co. of Milford, Conn., is part of a group that instituted the Conlisk Scholarship at Fairfield University in 1990. The scholarship is named for Conlisk's late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport. About 20 local residents of Irish heritage comprise the committee that awards the scholarship each year. Many of the committee members are of the first or second generation in the United States. When their parents or grandparents immigrated, they had very little education, and they wanted to better themselves and see their children become educated, Conlisk said. "This was the driving force in my youth and also, I can say, in the youths of the other committee members," Conlisk said.

When the scholarship was born, Irish students graduating from Irish colleges faced a bleak job market. Bringing them to Fairfield for graduate school meant a chance to make contacts with U.S. firms here and abroad. While the Irish economy (since known as the Celtic Tiger) has grown tremendously, "the scholarship adds a new dimension of exposure to the American system and, ultimately, American employment," says Conlisk.

McCarthy noted that attending business school in the United States should better his chances in the job market. "My motivation for applying for a business school outside Ireland is the fact that the cultural experience of living and studying in the U.S. greatly improves my career prospects in the proposed field," McCarthy said.

Each year, the Connecticut Irish Open golf tournament and an Irish concert held at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts - this year featuring tenor John McDermott - raise money for the scholarship. The local Irish community also reaches out to the students, by taking them in on holidays and long weekends, and introducing them to local Irish cultural events, said Norman Solomon, Ph.D., dean of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

"The Father Conlisk Scholarship not only benefits the individual receiving the award but also the graduate student body as a whole," Dr. Solomon said. "There is a tremendous learning opportunity that occurs when American students are exposed to students from other cultures. In this case Seán Maher has been able to share with his fellow students an in-depth knowledge not only of business practices in Ireland but also knowledge of how business is done in the European Union, of which Ireland is a member. Given Vincent McCarthy's strong background he will also be able to make an important contribution to Fairfield students' understanding of global business practices."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 29, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 277