From Victoria to the Vatican
The opportunity to study abroad as part of ACU’s Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Global Studies degree was a big drawcard for Phoebe Mahon and it proved to be a pathway to her future ambitions.
Phoebe began her degree in 2018, opting to study at ACU because of “the relatively small size of classes and cohorts at university”.
“To me, it seems it can be easier to feel lost at bigger universities, harder to gain opportunities or involve yourself in the student clubs,” Phoebe said.
“And like many who may have chosen to study global studies, I was intrigued by the core international component the Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Global Studies offers, unlike many other universities.”
However, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit midway through her degree, Phoebe was left wondering whether that international component would ever be possible again.
With international travel no longer an option, she took part in an online university exchange in America as part of her studies.
But the desire to physically go overseas to study remained and by her final year of study, Phoebe was champing at the bit to experience some place new.
“Fortunately, during my last year, the world was opening up again and international opportunities arose, so my thought was, 'why not apply?'” Phoebe said.
“I am so glad I did and I got to experience one of my career pathways to see if it was the right fit for me.”
Roaming through Rome
Situated on top of a pizzeria and gelateria in Rome’s Ponte district is the Australian Embassy to the Holy See – an intermediary between Australia and the central government of the Catholic Church, managing the diplomatic relations between the two.
In March 2022, ACU and the Holy See joined forces to give students the rare opportunity to shadow Australia’s top diplomat in the Vatican and get a glimpse into life as a foreign diplomat.
“I saw when the agreement was signed between ACU and the Embassy and I thought this sounded like the perfect opportunity for me,” Phoebe said.
“Not only did it allow me to finally experience overseas travel during, and as a part of, my degree, but it also complemented my degree and career aspirations well.
“While I thought being in my final year would be a hindrance, I chose to apply because I had nothing to lose.
“The worst that could happen is I didn’t get to go, and the best is that I do – I was very fortunate to be selected to be ACU’s first intern.
“I highly recommend anyone interested in international relations to apply.”
Seeing the Holy See
Phoebe was ACU’s first student to participate in the 12-week internship, which saw her become involved in a wide range of embassy functions.
“From report (cable) writing to research and event management, I gained an insight into Australia’s foreign policy objectives at the Vatican,” she said.
“There were two significant developments in early 2023 that elevated activity at the Embassy and it provided me with the opportunity to understand the impact of these events, and adapt myself to the additional work pressures there.”
It was an experience that paved the way for Phoebe’s next move.
Combining her expertise
Phoebe said her next step is to officially graduate by the end of 2023.
“While I am still unsure of the career path I would like to take, the immediate next steps for me are to complete my Practical Legal Training (PLT) and be admitted as a lawyer.
“My goal one day is to use the skills from my law degree in international relations, in whatever form that may take.
“I am excited to see what challenge is next.”
Discover more about studying global studies at ACU.