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Many say that studying abroad is a one in a lifetime experience.  After studying abroad in Florence in 2007, Fairfield alumna Brooke Lonegan ’09 knew she wanted to spend more time in Italy.

She began by speaking to everyone possible to make this want a reality, and was chosen to take a job as a Program Assistant at the Fairfield University Florence, Italy office, just ten days after graduating from Fairfield University.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to be in a leadership position and really see that what I was doing was benefitting the students or making someone’s experience better,” said Lonegan. “I also loved waking up to the Duomo everyday, speaking Italian, running along the Arno, and eating the phenomenal Tuscan food.. the simple joys!!”

After being a program assistant for the past 14 months, Lonegan’s time in Florence has come to and end, and she onto her next project, pursuing a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership at Webster University in London.

This means that Fairfield University is currently seeking an alumnus of the Fairfield Florence study abroad program to fill Lonegan’s position.

Alejandro Martinez, Assistant Director of International Programs at Fairfield University said that the office is looking for candidates who are “open-minded and portray strong leadership qualities.” Martinez added that “Candidates are expected to be flexible with their schedules as they will be living in student housing and dealing with problems around the clock.” As always when working with residents, a great deal of patience is expected said Martinez.

There was always something new to do as the program assistant, which made the day-to-day really fun and dynamic, according to Lonegan.

Working alongside the program Director, Joanne Maddux, whom Lonegan states is “a director who truly cared about and got to know each of the students,” Lonegan completed tasks such as informing students of upcoming events, responding to any housing issues, organizing event details, organizing for orientation, and fielding emergency phone calls and hospital visits when necessary.

Lonegan’s favorite part of the Italian culture was the food. “There is nothing else like it in the world. I made it my personal mission to test out as many restaurants as possible in Florence,” said Lonegan. “One of our students even got a sandwich named after him at Salumeria Verdi, a favorite sandwich shop (Brendan Egan, ‘11- sandwich,“The Beegs”).”

What many may not know about this position is it a combined curriculum of work and study during which the candidate is enrolled at Fairfield University as a graduate student, pursing a Certificate in Professional Studies. Lonegan was able to continue her education in Italian language and other disciplines, and had the opportunity to intern at GE Oil & Gas in Florence.

“The benefits of working overseas are too numerous to count. Beyond the benefits associated with learning about a foreign culture, a foreign language, and a foreign business environment, working overseas open numerous doors to future career opportunities, said Martinez.

“Having someone who has been through the study abroad experience that is also young enough to be able to relate to, made my transition from studying at Fairfield to Florence easier,” said Maxine Townsend ’11.

Lonegan’s enthusiasm and passion about living in Italy is extremely inspiring. “Brooke was extremely friendly and approachable, and always kept the students informed with all the events they could attend,” said Rob Hueber ’11.

“Italians are in the business of pleasure, and take pleasure in the littlest things in life…They’re so much calmer and that mentality is contagious,” said Lonegan. “Their respect for culture and history is also phenomenal. Being surrounded by buildings dating back to the 1100s, living in 4-600 year old palazzi as our students often do really gives you an idea of just how young our country is.”

For the program assistant, fluency in Italian is preferred.  Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential, as well as the ability to work with a diverse population, and an appreciation and respect for foreign cultures,” said Martinez.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please immediately contact Sharon Wilcox at

If you do choose to pursue this job opportunity, Lonegan suggests: “Make the most of it…The year goes by so quickly and as long as you take a bit of time to stay in touch at home, nothing changes in a year…Try new things, speak to everyone you can in Italian and make contacts and friends everywhere you go. Learn names right away. Reach out to the students and be aware of those who might be struggling. Travel in Italy, cook, eat… and let me know how it goes!”

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