Careers in the Capital with Fairfield Alumni
During spring break, the Center for Faith and Public Life (CFPL) embarked, with ten Fairfield undergraduates, on the road south to Washington, D.C. for their annual immersion trip. Students were selected to attend based on the strength of their essay applications and were accompanied on the trip by Karen Pritchard of the CFPL who said the trip is an effort to encourage careers “for the common good.”
The four-day excursion included a tour of Capital Hill with Congressman Jim Himes and visits to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Parks Conservation Association and World Bank. They also stopped in on Connecticut’s Senator, Chris Murphy, at the Hart Senate Office Building.
“The meeting with Senator Murphy was a great learning experience for me,” said Joe Harding ’17, a Magis Scholar and Fairfield University Student Government Association senator, and continued, “I hope to one day hold public office and he offered me some great advice about how to achieve this goal, what the job entails and how I can help serve the people I represent to the best of my abilities.”
Diana Bosch ’16, a senior with majors in International Studies and French, said that because of the trip, she was able to envision herself working at FEMA one day.
“It was my first time in D.C.,” Bosch said. “From visiting monuments to enriching my knowledge of the organizations and institutions we visited – it made D.C. an appealing location to [potentially] live in and to develop my professional path.”
The trip culminated with a Fairfield University alumni dinner and panel called “Careers in the Capital” that was hosted by Matt O’Connor ’92 at the law firm Covington & Burling, LLP, where he currently serves as partner. For the panel, alumni were invited to speak with students about the transition from college to the workforce, career paths and work/life balance.
“I just remember when I first moved down to Washington and Fairfield people helped me – this is a small way of repaying that,” said Christopher Donnellan ’82, about attending the event and speaking on the alumni panel that’s meant to offer students a networking opportunity to learn about career opportunities in D.C.
“When you come to a new town and you don’t have any connections, the alumni are your ‘home away from home’,” he continued.
Now senior director of government relations at The American Health Care Association, Donnellan said he feels public service goes hand-in-hand with Fairfield’s Jesuit values.
“It’s a wonderful profession – public service — it’s a real commitment and I encourage folks to go into it,” Donnellan said. In terms of [working in] healthcare, I was a history major — it was that liberal arts background that helped me to learn other things, work well with others.” He also said that the event was a great way to connect with other alumni in the area and that it was inclusive – not just for students and younger alumni.
Another active member in the D.C. Alumni Network and speaker on the panel, Sarah Howe Elliott, PMP ’07, a web production manager at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks it's easy for students to get overwhelmed when thinking about their careers and futures after college.
“Fairfield does a great job preparing you to work in a professional setting, but because it's a liberal arts school, that means there's a whole universe of job paths you could take and sometimes it's hard to know where to put your focus. I think it's helpful for students to hear that you don't have to have it figured out right away,” Elliot said.
About the alumni on the panel, Diana Bosch ’16 said: “Their fearlessness permitted them to explore different fields, acquire necessary skills and become better professionals. Uncertainty did not stop them from taking risks. That's what impressed me the most."
Other featured alumni speakers were Catherine Dalton ’87, underwriting manager, ICI Mutual Services, Inc.; Peter Holland ’88, vice president of federal government relations, United Technologies Corporation; Jennifer Labbadia ’13, communication and outreach associate, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach; and Matt Ryder ’07, senior consultant at IBM Global Business Services.
Pictured at right: D.C. immersion trip participants and Senator Chris Murphy in his office at the Hart Senate Office Building.
(l-r) Josh Singleton ’18, Diana Bosch ’16, Ashley Kapcsandi ’16, Angela Bida ’16, Adrienne Sgarlato ’17, Erica Osowiski ’17, Senator Chris Murphy, Alexandra Santulli ’19, Michael Joe Harding ’17, Ariana Fernandez ’18, and Joe Villarosa ’16.
Both photos by Diana Bosch ’16