Hear Our Stories

Who Supports the Fairfield Fund? We Do!

Meet John '75 and Susan (Tomasulo) '74 Walker

Not many people can say they married "the girl next door," but that is the case for John and Susan, who met at Fairfield when the two were living in adjacent houses on the beach. They married shortly after graduating, in 1976, have three daughters, and live in Fairfield.

John received his bachelor's degree in accounting and his Executive MBA from the University of New Haven, and is currently chief operations officer at GE Asset Management. He values the broad and diverse curriculum of his Fairfield education. "Inclusiveness is viewed as an important trait in getting things done in this business. In my 35 years of experience, I've seen that people from Fairfield University are able to adapt better to situations and are able to deal in the right way with different kinds of people ... Within my own firm, there are numerous Fairfield graduates. They're all doing very well and I firmly believe their success is helped by this solid, strong education we've had."

He continues, "Another benefit of a liberal arts education is that we learned to ask 'Why'. In the business world, you want the people to question the status quo and constantly look for ways to improve a process or a procedure, not just do things because they were done that way the last time."

Susan, a psychology major, has put her talents to work as a librarian in an elementary school, and in 16 years of teaching religious education at their church. "My roommate knew what she wanted to do and had it all figured out from day one. It took me a little bit longer, but my Fairfield education gave me the tools I needed to be flexible, and it has served me well at work and at home."

Susan also appreciates the network of friendships from Fairfield that continue to this day. "There's a sense of community at Fairfield, and a faith dimension. John's circle of friends and mine have blended. There's an attitude of camaraderie and it's great."

The Walkers know that alumni support is crucial to Fairfield's future. As Susan says, "Giving back is partly about pride, but it's also because we believe in the strength of a Fairfield education and want to see our alma mater flourish."



Meet Jessica (Dionne) and Tim Welsh '98

Jessica and Tim Welsh headshot‌College is often the place where couples meet and go on to marry after graduation. Fairfield is no exception. More than 3,200 Fairfield graduates have married classmates.

Some couples take a little longer than others to realize they have met "the one." Although they didn't start dating until after graduation, you might say that Cupid's arrow struck Tim and Jessica (Dionne) Welsh '98, right after they first arrived on campus in 1994.

"We met in Dolan Hall the second day of classes in our freshman year," said Tim. "I was walking through the dorm and Jess was locking her door, and we got into a conversation and walked to classes together. We got to the Student Center and I went up to Canisius; she went down the path to the science building, and we started dating ... 11 years later!" The two were married on campus in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola in 2008.

Jess received her degree in biology, with a minor in education. "I really wanted to do work where I felt like I was helping people and having an impact. The phrase 'men and women for others' really resonated with me," she says. So she went on for a master's degree in communication disorders at Arizona State University and is now a speech-language pathologist working with adults with aphasia, a language disorder often caused by stroke or brain injury.

Both Tim and Jess came to Fairfield from small high schools and appreciated the community of a small campus like Fairfield's. "It gave me a chance to get involved, to do and try things that I probably wouldn't have felt like I could have at a bigger place," says Jess.

The Fairfield community extended past graduation. "When I moved to Arizona for grad school, I stayed on a Fairfield friend's couch for about a month ... and within another month I had a place and a job," says Jess. "It was striking to me how seamless it was. And now, looking back, it's striking how I wasn't scared! It worked out because of the things I learned and the opportunities I had here."

Tim credits Fairfield's core curriculum for giving him a variety of opportunities after graduation. He graduated with a degree in history, and applied for a job in finance through a career fair. "I told them I didn't know anything about finance and they said, 'Yeah, but it seems like you can figure stuff out.'" He went on to complete his law degree at Syracuse University College of Law. Currently he is an attorney specializing in financial regulatory compliance.

Tim also appreciates the personal consideration Fairfield extended to him. Between his junior and senior year he became very sick and had to take a year off on medical leave. When he spoke to the dean about special arrangements, "it wasn't even a question." That flexibility meant a great deal to Tim and his family.

Jess sums it up: "Fairfield is a special place for us, and we're glad to give back."

Faces of Fairfield

Every face reveals a unique story of relationships - with family, friends, teachers and mentors, with oneself and with God.
Please consider a gift to help us build this community of lasting relationships.

Rev. Charles Allen, S.J.

"Eighty percent of life is spent preparing the next generation to take one's place. I take such delight in seeing our graduates becoming who they were meant to be. It is the combination of a Fairfield, Jesuit education and their own talents which have moved them in the right direction.

"It's one of the great pleasures of getting older in a community - seeing the work that you had a small part in 20 or 30 years ago coming to fruition."

- Rev. Charles Allen, S.J., Alumni Chaplain,
Executive Assistant to the President

At age 17, Charles Allen joined the Jesuits because he wanted to celebrate the Mass, and see the world. And he did - becoming a priest in 1973 and working in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia - before he arrived, as he says, "in the closest I will ever come to the Garden of Eden - Fairfield, Connecticut." Over his 33 years at Fairfield University and Prep, Father Allen is one of the most known and beloved faces on the Fairfield campus. He is everywhere - literally! He has lived in almost every residence on campus and consequently has known - really known - thousands of students. All who know him have come to love Fr. Allen for his wit and his kindness, his illuminating homilies, and engaging campus tours. He has presided at our marriages, our children's baptisms, and the passing of our loved ones. We have come to him for advice and direction, solace and encouragement. He is, and always has been, there for us.

Lasting relationships - a Fairfield legacy we honor.

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Dr. Danke Li

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my students grow intellectually and personally and becoming who they are meant to be.

"Kevin and I clicked right from the beginning. I teach Chinese history, and even though he is a biology major Kevin enjoys exploring the connections between science and history. He understands that as a young American living in the 21st century he needs to learn about other peoples and cultures. I look forward to hearing of his progress long past graduation."

- Dr. Danke Li, Associate Professor of History

When Danke Li first came to the U.S. from China as an international student, one of her professors went out of her way to help her both academically and in daily life. Twenty-five years later, they are still in touch.

As a professor at Fairfield, Dr. Li now mentors her own students. Over the past ten years, she has passed along her fascination with Asian history to more than 1,500 students, including two Fulbright scholars. She is respected for her kindness, and for motivating her students to think more broadly about the world.

In their conversations before her "Modern China" class, Kevin Goncalves '11 and Dr. Li talked about China, and about life. Among many other things, she discovered that Kevin is concertmaster for the University orchestra, and plans to go on to graduate school in the sciences.

"Dr. Li has helped me appreciate my potential and to think globally," Kevin says. "I love working in the lab. Perhaps someday I'll be part of an international research team that finds a cure for cancer."

Mentoring relationships - a cornerstone of a Fairfield University education.




Sarah Gatti '10

"'Finding God in all things' is a huge component of my life. Like all relationships, my spiritual relationship is a struggle. My greatest growth has come from moments when I've allowed myself to be surprised or afraid. It reminds me of the greatness of God and my reliance on God."

"So, what does it mean to be in a place that's new, and how can you find God in the places you didn't expect to? I thought about this and discussed it for four years at Fairfield, and now I get to live it."



- Sarah Gatti '10, Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer, Ashland, Montana

"Fairfield was the perfect size and space for me."

From nursing to theater to theology, Sarah Gatti '10 took every opportunity Fairfield offered her to ask the big questions about "what really matters." In May 2010, she was awarded the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal for embodying the true spirit of a Jesuit education, with high academic achievement and a commitment to service.

Sarah's own lifelong struggle with Type 1 diabetes has helped her understand what it's like to be "different" and informed her passion for social justice and service. This year, she is living in Montana with other Jesuit Volunteer Corps members, recording the oral histories of elderly Native Americans.

Relationship with Spirit and self, to serve others - it's at the heart of our Fairfield University experience.




Kevin McMahon, Phil Neugebauer, Andy Papadatos
Class of 1991


Fairfield taught me the importance of balance, and that is a focus of mine in all aspects of my life - family, friends, work. Andy and Kevin are such truly great people - fun, generous, humble, intelligent, caring, and trusting. I enjoyed my time at Fairfield and beyond even more because of our friendship."

- Phil Neugebauer '91

"We always have fun together, and we keep each other grounded. Despite the time that passes between our conversations, we can always pick up seamlessly where we left off. That's a real sign of friendship."

- Andy Papadatos '91

"The basic values that I learned at Fairfield have helped to keep me grounded during the recent turbulent financial times. Andy, Phil, and I all share similar values and can call on each other at any time for any reason. One of the great benefits of attending Fairfield is that true friendships are made that will last a lifetime."

- Kevin McMahon '91

Their friendship began at Fairfield in 1989. They were three young men with majors in economics, accounting, and finance who benefitted from the rigor and balance of a Jesuit, Catholic education.

After graduation they stayed in touch. Phil even married his college sweetheart, Liz Koch '91, whom he met at Fairfield. Now – 22 years, six children between them, and three successful careers later - Andy, Phil, and Kevin still get together whenever they can.

Throughout the decades, Fairfield has laid the groundwork for many lifelong friendships such as these. From high quality academics to a wonderful community of friends, join Kevin, Phil, and Andy in honoring and celebrating the many benefits of a Fairfield education.

Lifelong friendships are made at Fairfield.




Rev. James Bowler, S.J., and Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J.


"After 47 years as a Jesuit, it continues to amaze me how the vision of St. Ignatius is still alive. I've seen its transformative power in the lives of so many students. Gerry brings to Fairfield a wonderful personal charisma and a deep understanding of our tradition. He will carry on what I was so grateful to nourish."

- Rev. James Bowler, S.J., University Facilitator of Mission & Identity

"It is both a great honor and a great responsibility to follow in Jim's footsteps. The Jesuit approach to education is affirming, compassionate, smart and reflective. Jim and I both share this vision of Fairfield's mission and identity, grounded in the teachings of St. Ignatius."

- Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., University Chaplain

From his first teaching days as a young scholastic, then as headmaster at Fairfield Prep, and 12 years at Fairfield University, Fr. Jim Bowler has mentored hundreds of students, helping them to integrate their intellectual and spiritual lives. Fr. Bowler has raised awareness of the Ignatian tradition across the campus, offering retreats and directing the Spiritual Exercises for students, staff, and administrators alike.

As Fr. Blaszczak takes Fr. Bowler's position in the Office of Mission & Identity this July, he brings his unique ecumenical experience from posts around the world to the University's increasingly diverse community. He is proud to be a part of Fairfield at a time when the focus is on the formation of global citizens. "Ignatian spirituality gives me the meaning and the path, and with whatever years I have, it is what I want to be about."

Support the tradition of a Jesuit education at Fairfield University.

Why We Gave Back

Reunion is a wonderful time to make a gift to the place you called home for four years. Every gift, of whatever amount, counts toward your Class goal.

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Chuck Burke ’01

"I consider myself so lucky to have attended Fairfield—both for all that I learned and for all of the wonderful friends I made. I learned a few key things:  1) the ability to reason and think through complex issues and problems in a multi-dimensional way; 2) the importance of intellectual curiosity—never being afraid to question, having an opinion and sticking to it; 3) the importance of living a balanced life and focusing on the 'right' things, and 4) the importance of giving back—so that others following you will be able to have the same opportunities that you have had."

 

Jack Hammond ’01

"The Fairfield experience is one that I will never forget. Memories and friendships will last me a lifetime, and for this I am very grateful!"

 

Steve Winkel ’01

"My time at Fairfield molded me into a better person and a solid professional. When I look at the success I had, many of the lessons I learned relate back to the classrooms of Canisius, my mission trip to Ecuador, and even "networking" at the townhouses and the beach. I want to support Fairfield so future generations can have that same opportunity from our alma mater."

Principles We Live By

From poetry to biology, business ethics to nursing, Fairfield's outstanding faculty challenge their students to integrate what they learn and strive toward excellence on whatever path they follow.

Meet Dr. Kim Bridgford
, professor, poet, former Connecticut Professor of the Year and two-time nominee for U.S. Professor of the Year



"Excellence is all about seizing the moment, whether you are beginning your college career or taking what you've learned into the rest of your life. Jesuit education, especially at Fairfield, combines passion for learning with a commitment to excellence. I encourage my students to dream the largest dreams possible - to strive to excel in all things possible."




Regardless of major, Fairfield's Jesuit education encourages students to explore their calling, here and abroad.

Meet Jon Haskins '10
; aspiring biologist; E. Gerald Corrigan ’63 Scholar; recipient of the Orin L. Grossman Global Scholar's Prize; member of Alpha Sigma Nu, Phi Sigma Tau, and Alpha Mu Gamma; treasurer of the Fairfield University Glee Club; and director of the acapella Men's Ensemble



"During my junior year I traveled to Patagonia with Dr. Brian Walker to study the effects of tourism on Magellanic penguins. It was amazing! Collaborating with Argentine scientists and spending time in the penguins' habitat helped me translate classroom learning into a real-world experience. When I came to college, my plans were to attend medical school, but I fell in love with field biology. It's an active, 'hands-on' form of learning that transcends the classroom and laboratory. I hope to take this experience further by pursuing graduate studies in genetics and physiology."




At Fairfield, leadership and service go hand-in-hand. Throughout their four years, students learn how to empower, inspire, and coordinate others toward a common goal - whether it's digging a ditch on a service trip in Mexico, or running their own film company

Meet Robert Cammisa '10
; aspiring film producer; former residence hall president; participant in Fairfield's L.E.A.D. program (Leadership Education and Development); founder, Companion Pictures



"Fairfield has offered so many opportunities for me as a leader. On a service trip to Mexico, a group of fellow Fairfield students and I helped build a soccer field for an elementary school. It meant so much when the students would dig alongside us during their free periods!

I would not be the person I am today without those leadership experiences. My passion is filmmaking and at Fairfield I've been able to make my own films and become confident as a director and producer. Now my friends and I are creating our own film company - a huge endeavor - but with the passion we have and the leaders in our group, I believe we'll succeed."




At Fairfield, we guide students along the many paths that lead to an inspired life. Through living and learning communities, personal mentoring from faculty, study abroad, and service learning programs, Fairfield students discover, explore, and share their unique talents.

Meet Greisy Sanchez '10
, aspiring M.D., double-major in Spanish and biology; member of the Spanish-American and Latino Student Association; mentor in the Youth Partnership Program for Bridgeport high school students.



"My experiences at Fairfield have inspired all parts of my life - spiritual, social, and academic. Through Dr. Sheila Candelario's class in my sophomore year, I finally understood what learning meant to me - how to be curious about our history, and how to question and use what I was learning outside the classroom. Then I had the chance to study abroad in Nicaragua. I got in touch with myself and the things I really value through that trip, and by going through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. It was an unforgettable experience that has stayed with me and inspired me to think about the world differently."




"As Jesuits, we take time each day to pray the Examen of Conscience, the reflection process St. Ignatius developed almost 500 years ago. Through this daily reflection we recognize our hopes and desires, become aware of God's presence in our actions, and look forward with hope and intention to the future.



"Life-long habits of reflection can free us from the slavery of bias, social convention, habit, and ideology. We want our graduates to be women and men who are truly free to use their talents and their energies in a way that is intellectually honest and morally responsible. This only happens through the discipline and adventure of open, critical analysis and reflection."

Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., Fairfield University Chaplain




"When I arrived on campus in the fall of 1955, I could never have imagined the impact Fairfield University would have on me and my future family. The University and I were both young. Students had come to Fairfield from many different backgrounds and for many different reasons, but the Jesuit values instilled in us - academic excellence, service to others, and spiritual exploration - inspired all of us.



"When our twins, Patrice and Michael, graduated from Fairfield in the 1990s, the campus had changed, but those basic Jesuit principles were still present and influenced them, too. Our family legacy continues - our grandson Tim McCann is a member of the Class of 2013. Tim will be living in Loyola Hall this fall, where our family's love of and loyalty to Fairfield started 55 years ago.

"Tradition and Fairfield University are one and the same for our family. Whether your legacy is one generation or three, show your loyalty to Fairfield. Join us in supporting Fairfield University."

Charlie McCann '59, pictured with his wife Muriel and Patrice McCann '94, Timothy McCann '13, and Michael McCann '94

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