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Student Stories

Students in an international studies class.

Student Stories

As a small college, the College of International Studies is invested in our students' academic experiences and accomplishments. We love to highlight our students and alumni who are conducting interesting research, completing an exciting internship, traveling for study or work, presenting at a conference, or embarking on the career of their dreams. Read below stories from just some of our exceptional students and alumni.

Are you a CIS major, minor, graduate student or alum with a story or accomplishment to share? Reach out to Maura McAndrew at

CIS Grad Student Jackie Gibson Gains Key Career Experience as State Department Intern

Jackie Gibson

Early in her undergraduate career, Jackie Gibson set a goal: to one day work as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. The Tulsa native earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies with three minors –Chinese, international security studies, and global energy, environment and resources – and then continued at CIS for her master’s in international studies (MAIS). Now in her final year of graduate school, Gibson is drawing closer to her goal: last fall, she began a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship with the U.S. Department of State.

“I work for the European and Eurasian office in the Economics Department,” she explains. “My internship focuses on trilateral relations between the U.S., EU and China in regards to export controls on critical technologies, more specifically semiconductors. Basically, I research how U.S. export regulations have influenced China’s perception of certain European countries, or the EU as a whole, who go along with U.S. export controls, and how this relationship is playing out and developing conflict or competition.”

Read more about Jackie's Experience

OU Grad Stories 2023: IAS Major Angelora Castellano

Spring 2023 CIS graduate Angelora Castellano, who was also selected as the College of International Studies Outstanding Senior for 2022-23, was profiled by the University of Oklahoma through Grad Stories, a platform spotlighting exceptional graduates from throughout the university.  Learn about Angelora's journey, including a unique study abroad experience in Rome, in the video.

Read More and Watch the Video at OU Grad Stories

IAS Major Katherine Holden Presents at Top Conference in Jordan

Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden, an international studies major from the Washington, D.C. area, had the opportunity of a lifetime when a paper she co-wrote was selected for a prestigious conference in Amman, Jordan. There were two components to her November trip: a two-day course for future diplomats hosted by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the conference itself, hosted by the Arab Institute for Security Studies (ACSIS). Holden was one of a small group of undergraduates who was able to travel to Amman to attend the events, which she calls “definitely a one in a million kind of opportunity.”

Read more about Katherine's experience

OU Students Recognized at Model UN Conference

In November 2022, OU's Model UN club traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas for the the Arkansas Collegiate Model UN (ACMUN) conference, where they earned recognition in several categories. The University of Oklahoma chapter of Model United Nations, led by current president Renner Howell, a senior political science major, and advised by CIS Director of Risk Management Jeremy Lambeth and IAS Assistant Professor John Emery, has been active since 1958, making it one of OU's longest-running student organizations. Participation in the ACMUN conference was made possible by the generous financial support of the College of International Studies and the University of Oklahoma Student Government Association.

Read more about OU Model UN

OU Model UN students

M.A. in Global Affairs Students Learn through Travel in Ireland

GAMA students in Ireland.

Students and faculty involved with CIS's Global Affairs master's program (GAMA) were thrilled to be able to return to Ireland in June 2022 for the program's education abroad experience. (The first GAMA trip to Ireland was in summer 2019; the pandemic prevented it from running the past two years.) The group of 22 students was led by former CIS Professor Mitchell Smith and GAMA program manager and graduate advisor Katie Watkins. A smaller group of students traveled to Puebla, Mexico, for their GAMA study abroad course with Professor Charlie Kenney.

Read more about the GAMA trip

Julia Weatherford '22: Seoul Serendipity

2022 Graduate Julia Weatherford entered OU as a biomedical engineering major, but her longtime love of different cultures was pulling her in a different direction: toward international studies. “At some point in the first two weeks I realized, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” she says, “so I delved into my prior interests. I had a background of loving different cultures, and I always had an interest in traveling abroad. I just felt that international studies would be a good fit personality-wise.” 

Weatherford, who is originally from San Antonio, Texas, chose to double major in international studies and economics and minor in German, a decision that has led to research opportunities; a semester abroad in Seoul, South Korea; an internship with CIS Risk Management; and an award. In spring 2022, she received the OU Libraries Undergraduate Research Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship and the publication of her project on OU Libraries ShareOK database. Her project, an interactive paper and StoryMap titled “Seoul: A Dilemma of Modernity or Affordability,” originated in IAS Assistant Professor Emma Colven’s spring 2021 course — Land and Environment in Asia.  In a twist of fate, Weatherford ended up enrolling in a study abroad program at Korea University in Seoul for the fall 2021, where she was able to share her research.

Read more about Julia's research and experience in Korea

Julia Weatherford