This year marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of female undergraduate students at Fairfield University.
Fairfield is celebrating this anniversary through various events and programs that pay homage to the first female students who paved the way for current women students, administration, faculty and staff at Fairfield. The commemoration is particularly appropriate as March is International Women’s Month.
Fairfield University is promoting both the 50th anniversary and National Women’s Month with events including panels and lectures, as well as performance and fine arts programming by the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Students can learn more about these events by visiting Life@Fairfield.
The University is also encouraging the Fairfield community to “Get Social,” where current Stags and alumni can celebrate the milestone through updating social media profiles with fun 50th anniversary cover photos and profile filters. These filters work through Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. The Women’s Leadership Council has long supported Fairfield University’s network of women. This organization excels in helping women succeed at Fairfield and donates funds to support the vital missions of WLC each year.
Fairfield University was originally founded by the Society of Jesus as The Fairfield University of St. Bellarmine on March 17, 1942. It began its institutional life as an all-boys prep school. On Nov. 6, 1968 it was formally decided that Fairfield University would become a coeducational institution.
The 70s offered many firsts for women at Fairfield. The first class of 234 female undergraduates was admitted to Fairfield University in September 1970, and women’s intramural sports were introduced one month later. Fairfield introduced its first female Editor-in-Chief of the Manor yearbook in 1972. The first female security guard, the first woman president of the student legislature and the first woman student to earn the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal were also featured in this decade.
Women at Fairfield continue to trailblaze. The first female president of the Fairfield University Student Association was Karen Donoghue ‘03. Since then, there have been five women to serve in this position. FUSA held an event in the Spring of 2020 to celebrate these individuals and discuss lifting women up within the university community.
In Feb., Cailyn Fiori ‘22 was elected to be Fairfield University Student Association Vice President for the 2021-2022 academic year. Fiori has been heavily involved with campus life at Fairfield as a Senior New Student Leader, Class of 2022 FUSA Programmer, Tour Ambassador, among other leadership roles.
She recognizes the importance of National Women’s Month and the 50th anniversary of women at Fairfield, as her predecessors have paved the way for her own accomplishments.
“National Women’s Month has always been a time for me when I look to powerful women that have come before me for inspiration,” Fiori said. “It feels all the more special this year as it is the 50th anniversary of women at Fairfield.”
She said she feels “inspired, challenged, and ultimately grateful” for her predecessor. As Vice President, she hopes to “make all women at Fairfield feel as though [she] can be someone who will work to represent the many brilliant voices and ideas that we have as women at this institution.”
Fiori is no stranger to the hardships that come with being a strong, determined female leader.
“Being a woman that has continuously sought out leadership positions in many aspects of my life, I have come to understand the challenge of being both a leader and a woman,” Fiori said. “Often, there are times when I may need to speak louder or work harder than a man in my position, to simply hold the attention of a room.”
Female trailblazers for the past 50 years have paved the way for leaders like Fiori and others. Today and everyday we honor the women who have shaped the Fairfield community and hope they will continue to ignite change.