Overseas inspiration

New Director of International Center at UND looks to encourage more students to study abroad.

Katie Davidson

Katie Davidson. Photo by Shawna Noel Schill

Students looking to study abroad this semester will have a friendly new face at the University of North Dakota to help guide them through the process as they pack up and head overseas.

Katie Davidson was hired as the new Director of the International Center at UND this summer. Beginning her new job on July 11, Davidson is optimistic about developing more opportunities for students to have an international experience.

“It’s great,” Davidson exclaims. “My staff is fantastic; everyone is fresh and new and excited. This is the type of work I want to be doing and I was really excited this position opened up.”

Going above and beyond

As the former Coordinator of International Study Programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, Davidson served as the program director for study abroad programs and institutional partnerships for eight years, maintaining and developing both throughout Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Australia and the Middle East.

Though she holds a bachelors degree in philosophy and a Masters of Business Administration from Iowa State University, it was her international experience that helped her discover her calling.

“I had a study abroad experience when I was 19,” Davidson said. “I spent a semester in Italy and it was life changing because it made me think about things I never had to think about before. Experiencing that was transformative. Knowing you can be so far outside your comfort zone and still be okay is what really transforms people.”

Moving from Iowa State, where Davidson says the international activity is very decentralized, meaning each individual college had it’s own international programs representative, Davidson is looking forward to working at UND where the International Center works with the entire university as a whole, not individual colleges.

Another perk of working at UND is the fact Davidson will now have a staff working with her, giving her the opportunity to develop the strategic drive of the international programs.

Working to develop her skills, Davidson went through management training offered by the NAFSA Association of International Educators, attended advocacy days in Washington D.C. and served as a coach for professional development programs also offered through NAFSA, all while completing her bachelors, masters and working toward her doctorate.

New university, same drive

Moving to a new area can be a little nerve wracking, but Davidson is nothing but optimistic about moving to Grand Forks and working at UND. With a smaller student population than Iowa State, Davidson considers the central position as Director of the International Center to be an advantage to the decentralized setup she experienced at Iowa State.

Looking forward to getting settled, getting involved with the community and attending some men and women’s Fighting Hawks hockey games, Davidson is happy to be with UND, and doesn’t see herself leaving anytime soon.

“I’m here until there’s nothing else to do,” Davidson said. “And right now there’s a lot to do, so I’m anticipating being here for awhile.”