Fairfield University's Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship a great opportunity for business students from Ireland

Fairfield University's Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship a great opportunity for business students from Ireland

Image: Brian Kelly For Brian Kelly, being awarded Fairfield University's Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship has been a great relief. It pays full tuition, room and board, as well as medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to complete a graduate degree at Fairfield's Dolan School of Business .

A recent graduate of the University of Limerick in Ireland, Kelly was concerned about his job prospects in his native country where the unemployment rate has hovered at 14 percent. "Among my friends, one had to go to London for work, another just finished doing an internship in Luxembourg, and one is unemployed," said Kelly, an M.S. in finance candidate.

Thanks to the Rev. Conlisk Scholarship, Kelly has the next 18 months spoken for. It is awarded each year to an M.B.A. or M.S. in finance candidate from Ireland. The scholarship typically covers about three semesters, since the students are attending full-time. The total grant generally amounts to about $50,000.

Kelly, 22, has hit the ground running at Fairfield, taking advantage of the Dolan School's opportunities. He's taking two courses in the cutting edge Business Education Simulation and Trading (BEST) Classroom, with an eye toward mastering the Bloomberg Terminals. The computers are not typical ones found in most business schools. They are loaded with special databases central to making stock purchases and trades. "I'm on the list to become Bloomberg Certified because I think it will set me apart," he said.

Also on Kelly's horizon is interning at an area financial institution via the University's Curricular Practical Training program, and taking courses that will lead to advanced certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Meanwhile, he's enjoying courses in financial modeling with Dr. Michael Tucker and portfolio investing with Dr. John McDermott, among others.

"I would really love to stay in the United States and work in front office investment banking," he said, referring to departments responsible for sales and producing revenue. "A lot of the finance jobs in Ireland are middle office or back office."

Interestingly, the Rev. John M. Conlisk Scholarship was founded about 20 years 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. The scholarship is named for Conlisk's late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport. Many of the scholarship committee members are first or second generation Americans. When their parents or grandparents arrived from Ireland, they wanted to see their children become educated. Not many years after the scholarship's founding, Irish's 'Celtic Tiger' roared, signaling in a time of great prosperity in Ireland. It came to a halt with the great recession.

"I was lucky enough to be chosen and I am very grateful to the Conlisks and the committee for this opportunity," said Kelly, who was born in Dublin. "It will be helpful to have a great school like Fairfield on my resume."

Kelly hopes for a job in New York City one day. When he was quite young, his family lived in nearby White Plains, N.Y. while his father worked for the Irish Trade Board. (In addition to his parents, now living in Limerick, he has an elder sister Dervla, a Ph.D. candidate in nanotechnology in Ireland.)

Internships with CME Group in London and RBC Dexia in Luxembourg affirmed that a life in finance was for him. "That pressure cooker situation? I thrive on it," he stressed.

For now, Kelly is feeling right at home, enjoying extra curricular graduate student events and being a part of Fairfield's Men's Soccer Club . "Everyone is so warm and friendly at Fairfield," he observed. "They hear the Irish accent and start talking. So many people are Irish. It's great."

Posted On: 11-08-2011 11:11 AM

Volume: 44 Number: 118