Rome campus director and students hang out with Tom Cruise

“Movie star Tom Cruise was in Rome on Monday, April 24, to promote his latest blockbuster, ‘Mission Impossible III,’” writes Thanos Zyngas, director of the St. Thomas Bernardi Campus in Rome. “Tom’s promotional gig was the Italian version of Total Request Live that took place in Piazza del Popolo, one of Rome’s main piazzas.”

UST student Cherise Hudrlik met Tom Cruise in Rome. She is a junior majoring in operations management. He is a well-known movie star.

Zyngas – who firmly believes in helping students experience the cultural diversity of Rome – and a few St. Thomas students headed to the piazza and found “pretty close spots” despite the thousands of people who flocked there. “MI:III” stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Keri Russell – and director J.J. Abrams were introduced. “The show was fun with clips from the movie and upbeat songs to keep the crowd entertained,” Zyngas reported.

But how did he get his photo taken with Tom?

“One of my students and I got ‘trapped’ in the massive crowd and kept getting pushed toward the front,” Zyngas said. “We ended up at the railings where Tom was ‘cruising’ and meeting and greeting the media and the people. So after about three and a half hours there, we managed to get our photo taken with Tom Cruise, his autograph and even chat with him. He was more than happy to have his picture taken with fans.”

And how have the fans of the fun-loving Zyngas reacted?

“The photo is real, despite the fact that some friends, ‘doubting Thomases’ and green with envy, no doubt, thought it a digitalized trick,” laughed Zyngas. “I don’t have the money Tom Cruise has, but I am living in Rome, I have friends and colleagues that genuinely care about me, and I genuinely care about them. Nothing can go wrong with that.”