Sean Donovan is Dolan School's Conlisk Scholar

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Sean Donovan is Dolan School's Conlisk Scholar

Bags packed, new college degree in hand, Sean Donovan was about to start a job that his heart wasn’t into. But then a letter arrived from Fairfield University that changed everything.

It conveyed that Donovan had been awarded the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship to attend the Dolan School of Business, worth about $60,000 to cover all tuition, housing and medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to earn a master’s degree. It is given annually to a graduate student from Ireland to help their career prospects and is an opportunity to further one’s business education. The scholarship is named for the late Fr. Conlisk, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“It was amazing,” said Donovan, of Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland. “I read it again, and then a third time. I thought, ‘I’ve got to show this to people.’ ”

For Donovan, the full scholarship means an opportunity to obtain a global business education from an American, Jesuit business school.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Ireland’s unemployment rate has been stubbornly high, and hovers now at 10.60 percent. That has led many young Irish people to emigrate for work. Many of Donovan’s friends moved to the United Kingdom to become teachers, while some are working as engineers in Australia.

The Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship at Fairfield was founded more than two decades ago when the Irish economy was struggling. A group of Irish Americans led by Fairfield University trustee Kevin M. Conlisk '66 believed a scholarship would give an Irish student an opportunity to make business contacts and enhance his or her options. The scholarship is named for Mr. Conlisk’s late brother. Many of the founding scholarship committee members are first or second generation Irish Americans, and established it to help a deserving young Irishman.

Donovan recently had the chance to meet his benefactors. “I thought there would be maybe 10 of them,” he recalled. “There were around 40 people. I told them how grateful I am.”

Donovan, 22, is a 2014 graduate of the University of Limerick, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business studies and majored in accounting and finance.

“I know I’m really lucky to be here,” said Donovan, who is pursuing an MBA, with a concentration in accounting.

Since starting Fairfield in fall of 2014, he has taken courses in accounting with Dr. Dawn Massey, law and ethics with Dr. David Schmidt, marketing with Dr. Mousumi Bose Godbole, and finance with Dr. Tom E. Conine, Jr. “A lot of my classes are with working adults and they bring an American worker’s point of view into discussions,” said Donovan, who is complimenting his classroom studies with an internship at KPMG in Stamford, Connecticut. “I also like it when other [international] students bring their points of view into class. And I’m learning a lot of new perspectives from my roommate who is from Asia.”

The next 12 months at Fairfield will give Donovan plenty of time to explore his options. “I just want to breathe and test the waters here,” he said.

Last modified: 02-25-15 12:32 PM

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