Alumni Spotlight: Katrina Larsen
November 16, 2016
As with many parts of UW-River Falls, the Office of International Education is overseen by an alumna of the university, as she helps students learn about global issues and topics both on-campus and abroad.
Katrina Larsen is currently serving as the Interim Vice Chancellor for International Education, working with both UWRF students who are currently studying abroad as well as international students currently attending UWRF. Pertaining to her role, her department works closely with UWRF faculty and departments to provide opportunities for international studies.
Originally from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Larsen first visited UWRF as a high school student, competing in the Agriculture Technology Contest at the school. In comparison to other local colleges in the region, she found River Falls to be the right pick for her because of its small town atmosphere.
“River Falls just felt a lot better,” Larsen said. “It just seemed friendlier and the right size for me.”
While attending UWRF as an undergraduate, Larsen was active in many student organizations. One of these organizations was the Agriculture Education Society, where she met many of her friends who she still keeps in contact with today. She said her favorite memories include attending conferences and planning events for Agricultural Education Society. Originally majoring in horticulture, she eventually graduated with a degree in agriculture education.
Initially, while Larsen was aware of the international opportunities that were offered at UWRF, she was unable to study abroad because of her specific course outline. However, she did have the opportunity to travel to Europe after graduation, working at an agricultural university researching roses.
She later went home to become the 4-H agriculture agent of Sawyer County, before returning to River Falls to earn a master’s degree in agricultural education. It was when she returned to UWRF that she became the first and only graduate student ever to participate in the school’s Semester Abroad Europe program (then known as Quarter Abroad), where she expanded her knowledge in adult education studying in Norway.
Leading up to her current position, Larsen has worked in many positions at the university since she graduated, mostly within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
Today, she and the other staff at the Office of International Education help students find the best study abroad programs for their interests. From J-term programs to full semester programs that span the globe, she said that any international experience can help students stand out when applying for jobs, and it can help them gain more knowledge about the world around them.
In regards to her current position as Interim Vice Chancellor, she said that while she never planned to take on the role, she enjoys having the ability to continue those opportunities.
“When you’re in college, you think that you want to follow a certain path,” she said, “but you never know what you what opportunities will show up, because you might try something different.”
When it comes to advice, she said she encourages current students to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered on campus, which includes student organizations, social gatherings and study abroad programs.
“There’s a lot of unique opportunities that are here for you,” she said. “There’s a lot of wonderful faculty and staff that are here to support you, so you should take advantage of that.”