Alumna Meets Pope During Internship in Rome

Teresa Haney '15 was a State Department intern at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

"I'd cross St. Peter's every morning on my way to work. It was beautiful," said Teresa Haney '15, recalling her time as an intern with the State Department for the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

Walking past the Vatican each morning was just one of the incredible things Haney experienced during her time in Rome. Haney, who graduated from Duchesne in 2015, is now a politics major at the University of Dallas. This past fall, she left Dallas to take an internship position with the Department of State. The internship program was full time, so rather than take regular college courses that semester, she earned credit for working.

As the only intern in the political section of the Embassy, Haney worked on a variety of projects and was able to do a lot of meaningful work, including writing briefs for the ambassador and planning itineraries for visiting delegations. One of the delegations was a group of visiting U.S. Senators, including Texas Senator John Cornyn.

Haney also had the opportunity to work with several groups on initiatives to spur peace in conflict zones. Notably, she was part of a meeting with rebel leaders from the Congo who, for the first time, were coming out of the bush to participate in peace negotiations.

"I figured the meeting would be a big group, but it was just these three leaders of the rebel group, me, the officer from the Embassy, and the mediator," said Haney. "It was really awesome to be there for that."

Haney was also involved in working with the Syrian American Medical Society, a group that provides medical care to war torn areas of Syria. The Embassy hosted a roundtable discussion to help the group gain access to NGO's that could assist with providing medical supplies.

Of all the experiences Haney had in Rome, a private audience with Pope Francis was the most memorable. The meeting happened during a conference about nuclear disarmament hosted by the Vatican. The Chargé d'Affaires
and other Embassy staff attended for part of the conference but had to depart early, leaving Haney as the sole representative from the U.S.

"We had a private audience with Pope Francis and they let all the representatives go up and meet him," said Haney. "I didn't realize I was going to meet him until very shortly before it happened. Then before I knew it, I was in front of him. It was a very quick exchange, but he was very nice."

Now that her internship is over, Haney is back at the University of Dallas to complete her junior year. She will graduate in 2019, and she's not certain what she will do after graduation, but she's considering pursuing a master's degree in bioethics.

As she looks back at how her time at Duchesne has shaped her life, Haney attributes her ability to succeed in a demanding position to confidence and poise, skills she honed at Duchesne.

"One of the biggest lessons I learned at Duchesne was the idea of having confidence in yourself," she said. "As a young woman, especially in the embassy setting, a lot of the events I went to had more established people, and I felt like, at times, I wasn't necessarily qualified to be there. But I remembered something the Duchesne teachers always told me — just have confidence in yourself."