Meet the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in international relations

By Melissa Burgess

Growing up between the United States and Southern France, Laura Boudon always knew that she would have a career in international relations.

In 2000, Boudon became the first woman at FIU to earn a Ph.D. in international relations. Today, she is the director at FIU’s Office of Study Abroad.

When she graduated high school in Southern France, Boudon’s parents, immigrants from France and Germany, encouraged her to pursue higher education in the United States. She began her studies at the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

Laura Boudon

“I am the product of international education,” Boudon said. “Education has always been central to my own journey.”

In her role overseeing the Office of Study Abroad, Boudon informs students about opportunities for international experiences. She and her team work with various offices on campus such as enrollment and financial aid, they negotiate student exchange agreements with partner institutions and prepare students and parents for the study abroad experience by hosting events like travel tips seminars.

“For undergraduate students, college is a formative time and it really shapes in many ways what students do next and how they think about the world,” she said. “It’s a passion of mine to really help students take advantage of the opportunities that exist on campus like study abroad. I love working with students and the study abroad team where we try to be creative on how to continue to reach out and explain to students how impactful study abroad can be for their lives.”

While completing her Ph.D., Boudon worked as a graduate assistant for John Clark, chairperson of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. He says he is proud of her accomplishments.

“I admire Laura because she has always followed her heart and her heart has always been in helping other people,” said Clark. “Laura is also focused and incredibly hard-working. She takes a personal interest in the welfare of FIU students who are living and working abroad.”

Boudon also worked as a program counselor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She says that experience helped her discover her passion.

“While I was a program counselor, I found the direction for my life was working with students in higher education,” she said. “I interacted with students outside of the classroom with a variety of things like creating programs or helping them find jobs. So when I became the director of Study Abroad [at FIU], it brought everything I’ve done together.”

Under Boudon’s direction, the Office of Study Abroad has increasingly impacted more and more students on campus.

In the 2016-2017 school year, a record 1,039 students at FIU traveled the world and shared-life changing experiences through study abroad.

Clark said that Boudon has helped expand and prepare study abroad opportunities for students at the Green School, too.

“My department has recently been increasing the number of partnerships with universities abroad,” Clark said. “Under her leadership, that expansion has accelerated and that could not have happened without her serious focus and hard work.”

Boudon said she is grateful to FIU for the opportunities and experiences she has had as the director of Study Abroad.

“I truly enjoy my work in Study Abroad,” she said. “My role in some ways is to be a mentor, not just to my team but to others that are interested in study abroad. I expect my professional journey will continue focusing on international experiences for students and international engagement for FIU.”