Past Scholarship Recipients

Aileen Casmano | Class of 2014

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dalling,

I am writing to you on behalf of being the student chosen for the January 2012 Ireland Intersession participant for the Mathew R. Dalling Irish Cultural Studies Scholarship Award. As I sit here trying to gather my thoughts of the two weeks in Dingle, it is almost impossible to describe my experience in words. I cannot thank your family enough for the opportunity of receiving the scholarship. It is an honor to have been worthy of the award. Prior to studying abroad, I had never been to Europe, so this trip was extremely important and exciting to me.

I vividly remember the week your son Mathew passed away. It was my first semester of freshman year at Sacred Heart. The entire community was touched by his life, both friends and strangers. However, after talking with students that knew him, it was comforting knowing all that he had accomplished throughout his short life. Mathew did not only leave Sacred Heart with an amazing impression, he always left his mark in Dingle. A friend of mine is friendly with Chris, the student Mathew roomed with when he went to Ireland. Chris told us that he and Mathew had a favorite pub in Dingle that they went to every night, named The Small Bridge. In memory of him, Chris informed the bartenders at the pub whom they became friendly with during the trip of Mathew’s passing. After hearing the terrible news, they asked if he could send a picture to the pub of Mathew so they could hang it up in his memory. Over the year, the picture somehow became misplaced and they emailed Chris asking for a new one. Coincidently, it was right before our January session was getting ready to the leave for Dingle. Chris asked my friend Sara (who I roomed with in Dingle) to bring the new picture to The Small Bridge and have a pint of Guinness with the crew for Mathew. Sara obviously said yes and after she told me we were so exited to bring it to his favorite pub and hang it up! When we brought them the new picture, the bartenders Kim and Mike were ecstatic to have a new picture and said they were patiently waiting our arrival. We sat with them for about a half hour and they told us stories about Mathew and his friends when they were in Dingle. They had nothing but funny stories and amazing memories of your son. I was so honored to tell him I received a scholarship in his name. Your family was so blessed to have had a person like Mathew in your life and the Sacred Heart community will never forever him. Thank you very much for all that you have done to raise money for my scholarship and future participants. I have hundreds of pictures from the trip aside from the photos included in this letter, so please e-mail me if you would like to see any! (email at top!)

With Love,

Aileen Casmano
SHU January Dingle Intersession 2012
Sophomore - Class of 2014

Christa CappelliChrista Cappelli | Class of 2014

Dear Dalling Family,

First and foremost I would like to thank you for the amazing opportunity you have given me. My time in Dingle was phenomenal and I cannot thank you enough for your kindness and generosity. By allotting me with this scholarship, I was able to experience Ireland on an even greater level.

I wanted to share with you’re an anecdote of a few of my favorite experiences in Ireland. One of the highlights of my stay came from a class trip. Our small five- student Education Class took an outing to a two-teacher school on the outskirts of Dingle. Upon arrival the students and Principal greeted us enthusiastically. They were eager to get to know us and display their Irish step dancing skills. After a brief tour of the school and a quick introduction the students anxiously waited at their desks and flooded us with questions about America. It was uplifting to see how attentive and interest they were. They were so well behaved and polite; it was a great site to see.

Another one of my favorite experiences was our trip to Killarney. Although Dingle was absolutely gorgeous, I was exited to see what a big Irish city had to offer. At about 8am we hopped on a bus and took a two-hour drive to the amazing city of Killarney. When we arrived we settled into our hotel rooms and then headed straight to our assigned sites. My class was to take a trip to the eve so elegant St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was a massive church and positively stunning. The stain glass windows were masterpieces, alone with the nativity that was displayed for Christmas. After our tour guide had commenced his lecture I went to the corner of the church and lit a candle for Mathew. I said a quick prayer and thanked him for this opportunity, it was the least I could do. After our tour we were free to roam the city and so I did. After a few hours of souvenir shopping I headed back to the hotel for a group dinner. Dinner was delicious but most of us were more excited to experience the nightlife, and boy did it live up to our expectations. We danced the night away at the local nightclub and even made some new friends. Killarney was one for the books.
The last adventure I would like to touch upon was our hike up Mt. Brandon. On our last day of the trip a group of us followed Sean Pol up what looked to be a pretty simple mountain, but we were mistaken. Our trip up was daring and audacious. Due to the conditions of the ground we had to take an alternative route. This route meant climbing over fences and running through sheep pastures. It was such a rush. By the time we reached the top, which was about two-hours later we realized the struggle was well worth it. The views were speculator and the air was so refreshing. Not many people can say they stopped to have lunch 3,000 feet up.

Once again thank you so much for allowing to me have this outstanding opportunity. It helped to provide me with a more globalized perspective of the world and friends that I know will last a lifetime.

Thankfully yours,

Christa Cappelli

Danielle BelsonDanielle Belson | Class of 2013

To the Dalling Family & the Office of Study Abroad,

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Dalling Family and the Office of Study Abroad for selecting me to be the recipient of the Matthew Dalling Irish Cultural Studies Scholarship Award. My study abroad experience in Dingle was one that I will always remember. This opportunity has opened my eyes to the beauty that is out there in the world and so much that I have yet to see in the future. I am so thankful to have been the recipient of an award in Matthew’s name, and this scholarship has greatly helped me with my study abroad experience in Ireland.

My two weeks studying abroad in Ireland was a wonderful experience. At times I had to blink twice, because it was hard to believe I was in a country so beautiful. Overall, my experience in Dingle was an amazing one. I had never been to Europe before, and when we first arrived in Shannon I couldn’t believe how gorgeous and green the country was. Also, how many sheep there were! I enjoyed every minute of exploring such a scenic and unique country with so many friendly people. The locals in Dingle were so warm and welcoming, and the Sacred Heart University Campus in Dingle was beautiful as well. On our first few days there, we were able to watch a Gaelic Football game and we were then taken on a Hill Walk. When we reached the very top point of the hill, and we were overlooking Dingle, the view was unbelievable. It made me appreciate the natural beauty of this country and how different it was from America. I enjoyed learning about the different aspects of Ireland’s culture. During my two weeks studying there, I took the Theology and Native Irish Spirituality religion course and it gave me the ability to explore this unique and scenic country while learning about the Celts in both Pre-Christian and Christian times. Over the course, we were taken on many field trips, exploring key places some of which included Holy Wells that were sacred to the country, and St. Brendan’s voyage point located in Brendan’s Harbor. At the Holy Wells we were encouraged to drink the water in the well and taste some of the flowers that surrounded us. The water was the purest water I had ever tasted and I could say that it was something I had never done before. We also took a boat trip to the Blaskett Islands and had an overnight stay in Kilarney, which were both highlights of my trip. In Kilarney, a group of us took a 12K Bike Ride around the national park, and took in the amazing scenery. It was really great to be able to see for myself such historic sites that were important to Ireland and the people that lived there. During my two weeks abroad, I think that I was able to become closer in touch with my spiritual side. At the end of one of the field trips that we went on, we were guided in meditation along a cliff. The sounds of the birds chirping and the waves crashing allowed me to take my mind off of everything and focus on what was really important in my life, and how much there is to be thankful for. Many times we get so caught up in everything else that is going on in the craziness of life, and forget to take a step back and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Ireland was the perfect place to be able to do this. I am so fortunate that Sacred Heart University offers such a great program for study abroad. During my two weeks in Ireland, I learned so much, developed new friendships, and made memories that I will never forget. I am so grateful to have been chosen as the recipient of the Matthew Dalling Scholarship, and couldn’t thank the Dalling Family and the Office of Study Abroad enough for helping me to experience such a wonderful opportunity in a beautiful country.


Danielle Belson

Michael TartagliaMichael Tartaglia | Class of 2016

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ross Dalling,

My name is Michael Tartaglia and I am currently a senior at Sacred Heart University from Shelton, Connecticut. I am majoring in English with a concentration in Writing, a minor in Theatre and I am in the Five-Year Education Program going for Secondary Education. The reason I am writing to you both is because I just finished studying abroad in Dingle, Ireland for the winter intercession, the first two weeks of January, and I would like to share my reflection on my experience.

Why would you want to study abroad? This was a question that people always asked me when I mentioned it. Well, my answer was simple. It was something that I have always wanted to do. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I knew that I wanted to travel around the world. Being one hundred percent Italian, of course Italy was the first country that came to my mind. However, since starting my academic career at Sacred Heart University I found that it was nearly impossible to fit the Italy Study Abroad Program into my class schedule while in the Five Year Program for Education. Now that I am a senior, I realized that the winter intercession of 2016 was my last and only opportunity to study abroad, something that I have been craving to do for the past four years at SHU. When thinking about where I wanted to go and looking at the different programs that were being offered for this winter, it was clear that the only country I could go to was Ireland since it was the only study abroad program that had an Education class. Now when I thought about studying abroad for all of these years, I never would have thought that I would have chosen to go to Dingle, Ireland, especially being one hundred percent Italian and knowing that Italy was the only place my heart desired to go to. However, after talking to numerous of people about their amazing experiences studying in Dingle, Ireland, I knew that it would be an experience of a lifetime that I could not pass up on.

Before studying abroad in Dingle, Ireland for Winter 2016, I knew that it would offer so many contributions to not only my undergraduate academic career currently, but also my graduate academic career. For my undergraduate career, I knew that I would be able to fulfill my dream of being able to study abroad, something that I have never had the time to accomplish due to my overloaded class schedule and my heavy involvement in extracurricular activities on campus. In regards to my graduate academic career, I knew that taking ED 341 Irish and American Education in Comparative Perspective, would allow me to complete a 3-credit education class that I could put towards graduate school, being already one class ahead. In addition, I knew that it would provide me with the hands on experience of being able to work in a classroom in Ireland, broadening my teaching styles with teachers and students in another country. Thus, I knew that it would have a positive impact on my professional career as a teacher, as it would show that I have not only traveled to another country, but I have classroom experience in a foreign country as a teacher or mentor. Lastly, in regards to personal growth, I knew that studying abroad would allow me to finally be able to experience living on my own. Being a commuter at SHU, I have had a different college experience than most students. I have not had that sense of detachment from my home, family, and friends. Although it was for only two weeks, I knew that living out of the country in Dingle, Ireland would have provided me with an experience of being on my own and learning what that is like, making me a stronger, and more responsible individual. Since I have never been out of the country, I believed that this experience would allow me to gain new knowledge and wisdom that one can only gain by studying abroad. Thus, I took the leap of faith and signed myself up to study abroad in Dingle, Ireland for the Winter of 2016 intercession in hopes that it would help broaden my horizons and create an amazing experience that I would cherish for the rest of my life; and I was right.

Overall, I am so happy that I took the leap of faith and decided to study abroad in Dingle, Ireland. It was an amazing experience filled with brand new opportunities of exploring sites, meeting new people, and learning vast amounts of information that will benefit me in the future. Out of all the places that I visited within the two weeks abroad, I have to honestly say that Dingle was my favorite. It had the nicest people in addition to a small-town feeling of everyone knowing one another with genuine happiness. Not only did I love the people and the overall feeling of the town, I loved the nightlife. Going to the pubs was definitely a new experience to me, but it made me feel like I was a part of the culture and I was able to adapt quickly. Before this trip, I never understood why people would come to Ireland to study abroad. After doing it for two weeks, I completely understand why. It is a country filled with beautiful sites, amazing people and many opportunities for adventure and a good time. I can honestly say that I had an experience of a lifetime and I will always keep this trip and its memories close to my heart.

Thank you to you both and your family for providing this scholarship to students who would like to study abroad. Being an identical twin, growing up was always a struggle for my parents. Everything that they bought for me, they also had to buy for my brother. Whether it was clothes, food, school supplies, even college tuition. With both of us attending Sacred Heart University and both of us participating in studying abroad in Dingle, Ireland in January, it definitely aided in costs for the trip. Because of you both and the scholarship, I was finally able to give back to my parents as they have always given to me and I was able to experience a trip of a lifetime. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!


Michael Tartaglia