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Submitted by Web Communications on September 20, 2011

As soon as I got to Ireland, I could not stop smiling. It really was everything that I had imagined …

Christina Kiernan ’12

Hometown: Chappaqua, New York

Program: Communication Major, Irish Studies Minor

Extracurricular: Operation Smile Club, YMCA daycare volunteer in Bridgeport, Club Lacrosse, Intramural 5 on 5 Co-ed Basketball. Study abroad in Galway, Ireland, Summer 2009; study abroad in Florence, Italy, Summer 2011.

Deciding on an Irish Studies Minor

I have always been proud of my Irish heritage. I’ve also been extremely interested in learning more about Ireland, the place where my family originated. There were never any classes offered in my high school that gave me the opportunity to study the Irish culture, so when I came to Fairfield I was so excited to see classes offered specifically focused on the topic. I was also thrilled that Irish Studies is a minor offered here!

I was eager to go abroad to Ireland, but wasn’t able to go for a full semester. When I spoke to Professor Cassidy, he pointed me to an easy solution. There is a 2.5 week Irish literature course offered in Galway, Ireland at the end of May each year. I got on the phone with my dad immediately and was registered to go within the week.

As soon as I got to Ireland, I could not stop smiling. It really was everything that I had imagined. The music, the beautiful sights, the pubs, the friendly people; I never wanted to leave. While in Ireland, I decided definitively that I would be an Irish studies minor and was looking forward to signing up for many Irish courses in the upcoming fall.

learning about giving back

An experience that has made a big difference in my outlook since being at Fairfield is the service-learning course I took with professor Dreyer. It is a Religion course called “Finding God in All Things.” [In addition to classroom lectures and discussions, students volunteer at Operation Smile]. Originally, I took this course to complete my religion core, but I have since found that it may be the most important course I have taken here. I am finally able to relate to the Jesuit themes and understand why they are so imperative. The service-learning program has opened my eyes to the importance of giving back. We take things for granted and while we may be comfortable in our lives, it is essential that we help people who are in need. Even though the class is over, I will continue to help raise money for Operation Smile and go to the YMCA daycare every week — not only because I want to, but also because I need to. In giving back, I am helping others as well as myself and I now understand how significant that is.

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