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Submitted by Meg McCaffrey on November 12, 2012

Brian Devenney couldn’t quite believe his eyes. posts.

There from Fairfield University’s Charles F. Dolan School of Business was a letter informing him that he had been awarded the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship, worth about $55,000. A full scholarship, it pays tuition, room and board, as well as medical insurance expenses for the time it takes to complete a graduate degree in business at Fairfield. Many of the scholarship committee members are first or second generation Irish Americans, and established it to help a deserving young Irish student.

“I had to re-read the letter about 10 times just to make sure that what I was reading was actually true,” said Devenney, a Limerick, Ireland native who began pursuing a master’s degree in finance this semester.

The chance to come to the United States to attend Fairfield came at a very opportune time. Ireland’s economy has been struggling since the collapse of its real estate market, as well as the global economy challenges. The resulting recession has led to the country’s unemployment rate standing now at about 14.8 percent.

“The lack of job opportunities has caused a large proportion of my generation to emigrate to places such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, a number of my friends included,” said Devenney, 23. “Being awarded the Fr. Conlisk Scholarship is truly a blessing.”

Interestingly, the 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 Mr. Conlisk’s late brother, a 1954 Fairfield Prep graduate who served the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Devenney has spent his life in Limerick, the bustling, modern capital of the Mid-West region with a great medieval past. He graduated from the University of Limerick where he studied business. One of three children, his mother is a nurse and his father is a planner at a large industrial plant.

On his agenda is learning how to use the Dolan School’s Bloomberg Terminals, a valuable asset for working in the financial industry. He’s also immersing himself in courses in corporate finance and financial modeling with Dr. John McDermott and investment analysis with Dr. Ying Zhang.

With an eye on graduating in 2014, Devenney’s hope is to land a front or middle office position at one of the major investment banks or hedge funds, perhaps in the U.S. “Everybody is really friendly and welcoming here, especially when they hear the Irish accent.”

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