Brian Kelly.

For the past 20 years, a group of Irish Americans have funded a full scholarship for a business student from Ireland to attend Fairfield University in Connecticut.

The scholarship, the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship, is named after a priest who had served the Archdiocese of Bridgeport for many years and the latest recipient is Brian Kelly.

The award covers 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, Kelly, according to a release from the Jesuit-run Fairfield, was concerned about his job prospects in Ireland.

“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 MS in finance candidate.

Thanks to the Rev. Conlisk scholarship, Kelly now has the next 18 months covered. The scholarship is awarded each year to an MBA. or MS in finance candidate from Ireland. The scholarship typically covers about three semesters, since the students are attending full-time. The total grant amounts to about $50,000.

Kelly, 22, is taking two courses in Fiarfield’s cutting edge Business Education Simulation and Trading (BEST) Classroom, with an eye toward mastering the Bloomberg Terminals.

These 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,” Kelly 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.

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

The Conlisk Scholarship was founded about 20 years ago when the Irish economy was also struggling. A group of Irish Americans led by Fairfield University trustee Kevin M. Conlisk 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.

“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 is hoping for a future job in New York City. When he was younger, his family lived in White Plains, Westchester County, this while his father worked for the Irish Trade Board. His parents and sister are now living back in Ireland.

Internships with CME Group in London and RBC Dexia in Luxembourg affirmed that a life in finance was for Kelly.

“That pressure cooker situation? I thrive on it,” he said.

It’s not all pressure as college life does have its more relaxing moments.

“Everyone is so warm and friendly at Fairfield. They hear the Irish accent and start talking. So many people are Irish. It’s great,” said Kelly who is active in the college’s soccer club.

It almost all of them will be outside Ireland, in the UK and mainland Europe.

The Dublin-based low cost carrier is looking for pilots, cabin crew, engineers and sales and marketing staff. The jobs expansion comes as the airline is set to grow from a fleet of 270 aircraft to 305.

The end result of the hiring will be a 10 percent increase in the current staff level of around 8,000.

Ryanair, according to reports, posted profits of €544 million in the six months to September 30, 2011, a rise of 20 percent over the same period the previous year. The numbers came as a result of a 13 percent hike in average fares offsetting a 37 percent rise in fuel prices.

Ryanair, which is run by the outspoken Michael O’Leary, says it anticipates passenger traffic rising from 76 million customers in 2011 to 80 million this year.


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