For Elliot Williams ’16 CLAS (Communication), a close encounter with Pope Francis was the culminating experience of his Vatican internship. Elliot, a Presidential Scholar, was an intern with the Catholic News Service at the Vatican during his spring semester junior year.
From previous assignments at the Vatican, Elliot learned to “be patient and get the job done. To be vocal and ask questions.” His almost meeting with Pope Francis came when he was sitting at his desk with his supervisor and she got the call that the news service needed an American representative for a meeting with the Pope. After making his way through security in the Apostolic Palace, he met up with a journalist from the Seychelles for the Pope’s meeting with the President of the Seychelles. The Pope passed by him on his way to the meeting. Elliot wanted his own footage of the meeting and made his way into the audience. Elliot proved resourceful at his internship. “Working at the Vatican I had to learn to talk to the right people and maneuver through the systems, which will be useful as a journalist,” said Elliot.
“I give credit to a lot of my classes and professors,” said Elliot. One of those classes was with Keith Jones ’07 CLAS, an NBC10 news anchor. “Keith was a huge support for me. I did my first live broadcast in the studio on campus. That really changed the game for me. Having professors that are professionals in the field of journalism really makes me feel like I can do this and be successful.”
One of those professors is Tom Ksiazek, PhD, who told him about the Vatican internship. According to Elliot, Dr. Ksiazek is someone who he can talk to who will always give him honest, good advice. Elliot also counts retired Philosophy professor John Immerwahr, PhD as one of his mentors. Elliot first met Dr. Immerwahr in his Interdisciplinary Honors class freshman year. “Dr. Immerwahr is someone who really cared about your overall development, not just academically. There are a lot of professors here like that. They’re more than a professor. They’re your friend and mentor. They’re in your corner.”
Now, after visiting and interviewing with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Elliot will begin an 18-month program as a Fellow where he will intern and receive his Master’s degree following graduation in May.