Alumni Stories: Katelyn Hinkens (International Studies ’12)

Photo of International Studies 2012 graduate Katelyn Hinkens

When I decided to switch my major to International Studies in 2009, I had no idea where my degree would take me or what I wanted to do. Although I had some regional interests and language skills under my belt, I still had a lot to learn and was unsure how to connect my interests to real world problems and job opportunities. The variety of courses offered in history, political science, languages, and regional studies offered through the International Studies program remedied those issues by allowing me to broaden my knowledge base, build a solid foundation for future academic and professional pursuits, and narrow my interests.

I knew I needed experience abroad in order to increase my chances of finding an exciting job after graduation, and though I wanted to move to Nicaragua, I wasn’t able to find a study abroad program. Thankfully UWM’s online course options allowed me to travel and live abroad while still completing my International Studies courses. I gained experience teaching ESL classes in Managua, Nicaragua, which helped me earn an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, where I later returned to work while completing another semester online. When I was back on campus, I had supportive faculty available to help me with my studies and provide advice as I looked toward graduation. My academic experiences, in combination with my time abroad, provided me with a well-rounded education and left me prepared to apply this knowledge in the real world.

After graduating from UWM, I was granted a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which covered my graduate school tuition and ensured a career with the U.S. Department of State upon graduation. I recently graduated with my MA in International Affairs from Marquette University, which I entered feeling prepared and capable after my undergraduate studies. Last summer I interned in the Secretary of State’s Operations Center in Washington, DC, and am currently interning at U.S. Embassy New Delhi. This fall I will be sworn in as a Foreign Service Officer and will spend my career serving at many diplomatic missions abroad. I hope to spend much of my time working as a Cultural Affairs Officer, fostering cross-cultural ties, tolerance, and understanding between the U.S. and other countries, as well as engaging in political analysis and reporting. UWM’s International Studies program provided the foundation to help me get where I am, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.