Fairfield Dolan Welcomes 2020 Conlisk Scholar

Fairfield Dolan Welcomes 2020 Conlisk Scholar

Photo of Matthew O'Neill

2020 Conlisk Scholar Matthew O'Neill

Each year, Fairfield University offers the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship to one dedicated student from Ireland, to pursue their graduate studies abroad in the U.S.

This year’s Conlisk Scholar recipient, Matthew O’Neill, comes to Fairfield with creative career aspirations for his MBA with a concentration in business analytics. Inspired by last year’s Conlisk Scholar, Claire Fitzgibbon, O’Neill – a business mind with a creative eye for fashion, film, and TV – set out to learn more about the scholarship through the University of Limerick, where he majored in both economics and finance, and minored in French.

O’Neill explained how he’s been waiting to apply for the scholarship since he heard about it. “I knew for a long time I wanted to apply … so it was just a matter of waiting for the email to come in that I could finally start the application process. It’s been a long time coming, I would say.”

The Conlisk Scholarship began with a group of Irish-Americans led by Kevin Conlisk ’66. Conlisk, a former member of the Fairfield University Board of Trustees, wanted to enhance the job opportunities of young people from Ireland by inviting them to continue their education and grow their business network in the United States. Conlisk Scholars are announced annually, and the scholarship includes all tuition, housing, and medical insurance expenses for a student earning a master’s degree from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

While studying at the University of Limerick, O’Neill said he traced his interest in business and business analytics back to secondary school. After exploring an array of subjects, from French to computer science, he gleaned a better understanding of his true passions and what topics he gravitated toward.

During his sophomore year in college, O’Neill discovered his passion for analyzing markets and diving into the process of using hard data to uncover the story being told. From there, he switched to an economics and finance degree, to focus more on business planning and corporate strategy with the idea that the business analytics side of things would serve as the basis for his MBA down the road.

“I’m very into film and TV,” explained O’Neill. “I want to go into corporate strategy or business planning for companies in the creative industry, like film studios or potentially fashion designers. That’s my dream. I considered the idea of going to film school but realized I was probably more suited for the business route.”

Given his experience back in Ireland, where he used coding language and analytic metrics to determine the growth earnings on a film based on its budget, genre, and critic score, it’s no surprise O'Neill is business-minded with an eye for creativity. “I usually bet on the Oscars every year with two of my friends back home,” he added, reaffirming his ability to combine his passion for film with analytics.

As of now, O’Neill believes he will stay in the U.S. for the foreseeable future to explore as much as he can; he is interested in finding an internship in New York City next summer. At Fairfield, he enjoys studying at the Dolan School of Business, and, weather-permitting, he likes to cycle down to the beach to set up his study session on the sand.

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