Name: Maureen O’Toole
Hometown: Verona, N.J.
University of Dallas students who attend the Rome program would likely call it “the most transformative experience of their young lives” or “the best thing they’ve ever done.” What could be better than spending four months in the Eternal City with your fellow students experiencing everything that European culture has to offer? It sounds too good to be true. The only downfall is that you can only do it once.
Well, most people can only do it once. One year after attending Fall Rome 2016, junior Maureen O’Toole — along with junior Teresa Haney — returned to Rome once again. This time, instead of attending classes and campus wine tastings, she drafted speeches for the ambassador, wrote and delivered presentations and worked on everything for the face of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
“My job involved a lot of writing and many times I was asked to come up with content on short notice and that really helped me improve and become more confident in my writing skills,” O’Toole said. “I also got the chance to attend events the embassy hosted as well as represent the embassy at conferences and meetings. I really enjoyed these opportunities because it gave me the chance to meet really incredible people from all different lines of work — government officials, journalists, entrepreneurs — and learn about their jobs and experiences.”
When asked how Rome round two differed from Fall Rome 2016, O’Toole said:
“Actually living in the heart of the city made it much easier to really explore Rome and going into the semester with only one other familiar face, [Haney], encouraged us to branch out and get know the locals together.”
O’Toole says that Rome’s vast array of places to explore makes it stand out from the other cities she’s visited.
“I think everyone should visit Rome at least once,” O’Toole said. “Out of all of the places I’ve traveled to, Rome is for sure my favorite. I loved to spend time on the weekends or after work just wandering around the city because I would always discover a new church or cafe, or come across something I’d learned about but hadn’t seen yet.
“A lot the other cities I visited I felt like I could see the entire city in one weekend or even a day, but I’ve experienced Rome twice now and I still don’t feel like I’ve seen it all. My absolute favorite place in the whole city is the Vatican. … Walking through St. Peter’s Square to and from work every day was amazing.”
Fall Rome 2016 still holds a special place in O’Toole’s heart, however.
“During my Rome semester with UD, Kathryn Zepeda and I decided to sign up for the talent show,” O’Toole said of her favorite Fall Rome story. “Of course when we signed up, we had absolutely no idea what talents we were going to showcase, or whether or not we even had any.
“At the last minute we had the idea to put on a mock Monday night meeting, so Kath and I dressed up as Mike [Pitstick] and David [Flynn], two of our RC’s, and proceeded to highlight the times when our class behavior was less than satisfactory.
“Talking about our mishaps in a humorous way gave us the chance to laugh about them and while we weren’t entirely sure how the faculty would feel about performance, it was really fun to see everyone laughing along with our class and receiving positive feedback from our professors afterwards.”