Alaina King

Not only did Lewis & Clark give me the confidence to navigate international policies and cross-cultural communication in the professional world, but it also showed me the importance of collaborative learning and critical thinking.

Alaina King BA '19



Degree and Class Year

BA ’19

Current City

Davis, California


International Affairs and French Studies


Campus Living Resident Advisor, SAAB French Tutor, French Club, Track & Field

Overseas study

Strasbourg, France

Job Title, Organization

Events Coordinator; University of California, Davis: Global Affairs

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Engaging, Collaborative, Thought-provoking

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

After growing up in a small, college town centered around a large UC, I was looking for an overall change of scenery: I wanted a bigger city, a smaller campus, and an interdisciplinary degree program focused on global learning opportunities. I settled on the Pacific Northwest early on in my college search and after touring many campuses throughout Oregon and Washington, Lewis & Clark checked all of my boxes!

What have you been doing since graduation?

Shortly after graduation, I moved to France to participate in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), a year-long English teaching program through the French Ministry of Education. When the pandemic hit, I returned to my hometown and worked in the nonprofit sector, first as a foreign language instructor at a local bilingual school and then transitioning into the international education management field where I started coordinating federal exchange programs at the Northern California World Trade Center. I have recently transitioned to a new role as an events coordinator for University of California Davis: Global Affairs, where I collaborate on events focused on study abroad opportunities and federally funded professional exchange programs, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your professional career?

As a budding professional in the field of international education, I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work in a field where I can tap into my undergraduate studies on a daily basis. Not only did Lewis & Clark give me the confidence to navigate international policies and cross-cultural communication in the professional world, but it also showed me the importance of collaborative learning and critical thinking, which has been invaluable to me as I navigate the field. More than anything though, I am forever grateful to my professors in both the French Studies and International Affairs departments for teaching me the importance of working across disciplines and encouraging me to pursue opportunities abroad after graduation – I don’t think I would have found this field if they hadn’t pushed me to apply!

What would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Learning to embrace the unfamiliar. While I may no longer be a student, the LC community pushed me to try new things and taught me how to navigate the challenges that sometimes come along with them, which has stuck with me long after I graduate. Whether it is applying to certain jobs, traveling to new places, making new friends, or even starting a new hobby, sometimes the best thing you can do is try!

Why did you major in International Affairs and French Studies?

By the beginning of my senior year in high school, I had taken several elective courses focused on international relations and with such a robust IA program, I was already set on pursuing IA from day one. Admittedly though, I did not plan on pursuing French Studies as double major from the start. After taking an elective French course with Marie-Eve Thifault during my second semester of freshman year though, I found myself wanting to register for more and more French courses each semester. Before I knew it, I felt so connected to the people – both classmates and professors alike! – in the department that I just couldn’t say no to adding a second major. It was such a joy to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and I met several of my closest friends!

How do you stay connected to Lewis & Clark as an alum?

I stay connected to many former professors to share life updates and I love to visit campus anytime I am back in Portland. My freshman year roommates and hall neighbors also remain as some of my closest friends – I have Campus Living to thank for the best random housing placement I could have asked for!

If you studied overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience?

As a double major, I was looking for an overseas program that not only helped me refine my language skills, but also taught me how to best apply it to foreign affairs in a meaningful way. With that in mind, the Strasbourg overseas program was a natural fit, perfectly combining my love for the French language and international politics both in and out of the classroom. I learned just as much from having dinners with my host family and hosting English tutoring sessions with local students as I did during class debates and field trips to European Parliament. My biggest advice to anyone at Lewis & Clark is to take advantage of a study abroad program if you can – it remains one of my greatest memories from my undergrad and really inspired me to pursue a career in international education!

Who was your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

It’s tough to pick one mentor since I felt supported by so many folks throughout campus. While I felt incredibly supported academically by the faculty in my departments, I think that the person who really shaped me professionally and personally was my Campus Living supervisor and former SOA Area Director, Jess Carron. Jess was the person who I could always count on to remind me to breathe, take a step back, and think about what I wanted to do after graduation rather than what I was “supposed to do”. Jess was also one of my biggest supporters when I decided to apply to teaching programs abroad and she really taught me the importance of pursuing passions in your work. We still get together when I find myself back in Portland!