Undergraduate Student Profile: Julie and Jennifer Labbadia ’13

Submitted by Virginia Weir, Assistant Director of Advancement Communications on February 21, 2013

Our father graduated from Fairfield in 1977. Growing up, he always told us what a well-rounded education Fairfield had given him. So when applying to schools, Fairfield was our #1 choice. After touring the school, we realized that the opportunities at Fairfield were endless.

Julie and Jennifer Labbadia ’13

Hometown: Westbrook, Connecticut

Why Fairfield?

Julie: Our father graduated from Fairfield in 1977. Growing up, he always told us what a well-rounded education Fairfield had given him. So when applying to schools, Fairfield was our #1 choice. After touring the school, I realized that the opportunities at Fairfield were endless.

Jenny: Our dad…has always brought us back to campus for various events, and when he did we fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere.

About being identical twins and going to the same school

Julie: I am an hour and a half older than Jenny. We love going to school together. It made the transition to college so much easier. We both know that we can do our own thing anytime we want, but it is also comforting knowing that we’re there for each other, at most a five-minute walk away. Having each other at Fairfield didn’t and still doesn’t stop us from forming lasting friendships, nor does it stop us from getting involved and pursuing our passions. In fact, one of our roommate’s mom is an identical twin and she told us that she and her twin regret not going to the same college when they were younger.

We are also roommates; it’s just so much easier because we share everything, including all of our clothes!

What they’re studying

Julie: Double-major in Sociology and English, with a concentration in Professional Writing; minor in Peace and Justice Studies

Jenny: Double-major in Politics and English, with a concentration in Literature and Cultural Studies; double-minor in Peace and Justice Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

About the Student Alumni Association and the “Teddy Bears With Love” project

Jenny (and Julie): I became a work-study at the Alumni Relations Office in my freshman year. The people who work there are so nice and fun to work with and they always encouraged me to get more involved in working with alumni through the Student Alumni Association. When I started to attend and help staff some of their events, most notably Reunion Weekend, I began to really fall in love with the club and I met some really cool alumni! I have always been interested in service, so when I decided that I wanted to take on a bigger responsibility with SAA, I applied to be on the Executive Board, and co-chair the “Teddy Bears With Love Drive”. It was also perfect because there were two spots open and Julie and I love doing things as a team!

We were in charge of many aspects of the drive. We worked with charities and hospitals, such as Yale New Haven Hospital, that wanted teddy bears. As part of our responsibility we confirmed drop-off times and locations after each organization told us how many bears they wanted, and we tried to accommodate their request. We were able to donate even more bears than many places requested, which was great! We also worked with regional alumni volunteers who held events all over the country to collect teddy bears for the drive.

It was really inspiring to see alumni come together for such a great cause. In the past, alumni participation is what has kept this drive going, but a big goal for us this year was to have a lot more student involvement. Besides collecting bears from students, we also took monetary donations from them because we knew some students did not have the ability to get off campus and actually buy a bear. We figured we could just do that part for them! This year, we were really proud of how many students ended up contributing or donating bears.

We really could not have done it without Colleen McGinn [Associate Director of Alumni Relations] and Jessica Colligan [Director of Regional Engagement], the real masterminds behind the drive!

Getting involved as students at Fairfield

Both Julie and Jenny have been New Student Leaders through the Office of New Student Programs and Leadership Development, facilitating orientation groups during the summer and a classroom for first-year students in the fall.

This fall, their first-year classes had a service learning theme. Every week, Julie took her group to Cesar Batalla Elementary School to tutor third-graders; Jenny’s class worked with first-graders, helping them learn to read.

Julie: I’ve also been a lab assistant for Dr. Kurt Schlichting, a sociology professor [and E. Gerald Corrigan ’63 Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences]. This involves working with the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and helping Fairfield students who are taking the sociology statistics course. For the last two semesters, I’ve also worked at the Center for Faith and Public Life.

This semester, I have a grant writing/fundraising internship at the Montage Initiative, a non-profit in Bridgeport that empowers women around the world. Right now their work is mostly in India.

Jenny: I am also a member of Students for Social Justice where we inform the campus community about social justice issues that we are passionate about. Last semester, one project we worked on was promoting the apparel of a company that pays its workers a living wage. This apparel, called Alta Gracia, was and still is available at the campus bookstore.

I am also a Service Learning Associate, working with the Service Learning Office to coordinate semester-long service for students enrolled in a particular class. I also help them reflect on their service and their experiences overall. This year, I am working with the Peace and Justice Studies Capstone, which I was enrolled in last year.

Favorite memories of Fairfield

Julie: Like Jenny, my favorite memories are the service trips. Last year I travelled to New Orleans with my Peace and Justice Studies Capstone course. This past winter break, I travelled to Nicaragua, a trip sponsored through Campus Ministry. These two experiences have opened my eyes to the reality of poverty around the world and have inspired me to explore a career in non-profits.

Jenny: My favorite memory over the past three and a half years was my immersion trip to New Orleans. On this trip I met some of the best friends I have at Fairfield today. Together we worked in solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and learned how people in New Orleans came together and continue to do so in order to rebuild their communities. It was an experience I will never forget.

Aspirations after graduation

Julie: After I graduate, I plan to do a year of service, hopefully with AmeriCorps or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. After this, I plan to get my master’s in public administration.

Jenny: I would also like to do a year of service, hopefully through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Afterwards, I am hoping to attend law school.

About staying involved with Fairfield and giving back

Both Julie and Jenny plan to give back to Fairfield after they graduate.

Julie: Fairfield has given me so much… Not only do I plan to donate, but I hope to perhaps run one of the regional Teddy Bear drives or help in any other way I can. I want future students to have as great an experience at Fairfield as I did. Hopefully, my kids will want to attend Fairfield one day, too!

Jenny: I recognize that the contribution, in whatever form, of past Fairfield graduates has really helped Fairfield to grow as a community and I would love to be able to have the same impact for the sake of future students. Who knows—one day my kids might be Stags, too!

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