Within the first month of being at Fairfield, I knew it was the right place for me,” said Shannon (Barry) Siwinski ’92, P’16.
As a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences who grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., Siwinski had originally planned on becoming an environmental lawyer, but a job in Boston at a pension fund over two summers took her in a different direction. She added a business minor with the idea of going into finance. When she graduated in 1992 in the middle of a recession, however, jobs were hard to find, and a fellow alumus, Bill Boyd ’67, encouraged her to apply for positions in fixed income sales. Siwinski took a position with Chase Securities in New York in July 1992 and has been with the firm ever since.
Currently, Siwinski is an executive director on the Short Term Fixed Income Trading desk at J.P. Morgan within the Corporate and Investment Bank, where she primarily trades commercial paper, with a focus on high-grade corporate credits. As a trader, she brings investors and issuers (companies who need cash) together, guiding issuers on how to proceed.
Her position requires a personal touch, and she enjoys working with people. “The Jesuit motto of ‘men and women for others’ has been a guiding force in my life. I want to serve my clients with an ethical standard that leaves no margin for error,” she said.
“Solving problems, thinking critically, and writing effectively are all important skills I learned at Fairfield,” Siwinski added. “My professors and the staff always pushed me to go outside the comfort zone. Not being afraid to try something new and the ability to speak publicly are skills that I started developing while at Fairfield and stay with me today.”
Those skills will also come in handy as Siwinski takes a leadership role as president of the Alumni Association for the next two years, replacing Maureen (Errity) Bujno ’90. As of June 30, 2014, the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the University agreed to merge corporations. The change will allow the Alumni Association to better serve alumni needs, and align more seamlessly with University structure.
“We did an extensive study, and realized that Fairfield was among the few universities that maintained separately structured alumni associations,” Siwinski said. “The support of the University and the Board of Trustees assures us that the voice of the Alumni Association will continue to be heard.”
As president, Siwinski said her main goal is to broaden alumni participation. “I would like to help the Alumni Relations team find the right mix of activities that will engage as large a population as possible. We have a wonderful network of ten regional chapters directed by dynamic leadership teams.”
Siwinski is also keen on continuing to grow the Job Shadow program, where alumni from around the country host Fairfield students for a day or half-day at their place of business (visit www.fairfield.edu/jobshadow). “What started with [former Alumni Association President] Bill Crean ’91 four years ago as a simple idea to connect undergrads with alumni has grown to over 250 alumni participants,” Siwinski noted. “With over 40,000 alumni out there we have plenty of room to grow!”
Like many Fairfield grads, Siwinski met her future husband Steve Siwinski, also Class of 1992, at Fairfield. Both of them have felt a strong connection to Fairfield for a long time. She was a volunteer at college fairs for Admissions and joined the Trustees Advisory Council before becoming a member of the Alumni Association Board in 2009. She also serves on the Fairfield 2020 Affordability Task Force. Steve Siwinski, who was an accounting and finance double-major, has been a member of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business Advisory Council since 2009. Both have served on their Reunion Committees for the past several reunions.
The Siwinski family affair with Fairfield included Steve’s brother Jamie ’96 and continues with their daughter, Sarah ’16, who is majoring in marketing and finance. In searching for a college, she was looking for a school with flexibility in majors, not too big or small, the ability to play sports, and close enough to a city so she would have meaningful internship opportunities.
The strong network of Fairfield friends the Siwinskis have kept over the years had an influence. “As Sarah was making her final decision about college,” Siwinski said, “a friend of ours, Dave Griffin [Class of 1992], happened to be down for a visit. He looked her square in the eye and said, ‘It’s 20 years later, and I’m standing in your kitchen. That should tell you the types of friends you’ll make if you go to Fairfield.’ I think that helped her make her decision!”