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Six Villanova Students Receive Scholarships for Summer Irish Study Abroad

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Villanova, PA – Six students in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received scholarships for study abroad in Ireland this summer, enabling them to take advantage of several distinctive Villanova University Center for Irish Studies experiential learning opportunities.

The opportunities were respectively, taking part in the Abbey Theatre Summer Studio, a partnership between the world-renowned Abbey Theatre in Dublin and Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies; serving educational internships at the Jackie Clarke Museum and Library in Ballina, County Mayo; and studying at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Caitlin Dittmeier ’18 CLAS and Mary Lyon ’19 MA each received the Ponturo Experiential Learning Scholarship to study at the Abbey Theatre Summer Studio. Lyon is a current Villanova graduate student in Theatre. The program offers students the opportunity to study the workings and history of Ireland's world-class national theatre while developing their own theatre skills, knowledge and practice.  

The scholarship is endowed by Tony Ponturo ’74 CLAS, managing partner in the Kirmser Ponturo Group, LLC, a company that produces and promotes projects at the crossroads of sports and entertainment. A longtime supporter of the study of theatre and the Villanova/Abbey Theatre Exchange Program, he is also a two-time Tony Award winner and a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council.    

Matthew J. Driscoll ’21 CLAS, Isabel Forward ’20 CLAS and Kamakshi Ranjan ’19 CLAS each received awards from the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Endowed Fund for Experiential Education in Ireland, in memory of Stephen P. Stanton. Founded in 1771, in Philadelphia, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick promotes Irish culture and education and provides aid in the form of scholarships and benevolence, as well as through events and activities. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick are generous supporters of Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies. The scholarships helped the three students take part in the Villanova Irish Studies program’s summer program at the University of Galway.

Dittmeier and recent Villanova graduate Abigail Harris ’17 CLAS each were recipients of scholarships from the Connelly Foundation, supporting their participation in internships at the Jackie Clarke Museum and Library. The goal of these Connelly scholarships is to give students experiential learning and job training while supporting an Irish institution, to create an exchange program that enables students to bring their experience back to the Delaware Valley, and to strengthen relationships with local cultural institutions in Ireland. The Jackie Clarke Collection comprises 100,000 items spanning 400 years of Irish history. The Connelly Foundation also supported graduate student housing in Galway at the Irish Theatre archives for the Summer Studio program.

Established in 2011, The Villanova University/Abbey Theatre Exchange Program links Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the prestigious National Theatre of Ireland. Through lectures, workshops and other activities, the Exchange Program advances dialogue between audiences, students, playwrights, scholars and theater practitioners—strengthening the University’s bond with Ireland and the Abbey Theatre’s bond with America.

Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was founded in 1979 and elevated to a Center in 2016 thanks to the generosity of the Connelly Foundation. The Center provides innovative courses in seven disciplines open to all University students to study Ireland and its diaspora.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.