Major: International Relations
Minors: Urban Studies and Business Administration
Next Step: Master’s in International Governance and Diplomacy at Sciences Po
Julia Lemmon, who is originally from Cromwell, Connecticut, chose LMU after touring more than 30 universities across the U.S. She felt a sense of connectedness and belonging right from the beginning and attributes a lot of her academic success and personal growth to LMU’s nurturing and supportive community. “LMU’s commitment to the education of the whole person has deeply impacted me, forcing me to grow in my weaknesses and giving me space to learn more about myself,” Lemmon says.
Lemmon switched from an undeclared liberal arts major to an international relations major in the spring of her freshman year, largely due to a very positive experience in the Introduction to International Relations class, and then subsequent exploration of the program’s website and realizing that her answer was “yes” to every question in the “Is this major right for you?” section. The major is a “perfect blend” of Lemmon’s passions: human rights, current affairs, politics, languages, and culture.
She also credits Professors Hussain, Cherif, Sariolghalam, Treanor, and Ramos for “challenging me to produce my best work, encouraging me to continue asking questions, and showing me different perspectives in the world that I had not seen, known, or understood before. I am a better person because of you all.” In fact, Lemmon was a research assistant for Professor Ramos, which began with Lemmon assisting Ramos with her research and culminated with the two co-authoring an article together. Professor Cherif was also the supervisor for Lemmon’s senior thesis project for the Political Science/International Relations Honors program, in which she researched political violence usage inconsistencies in liberation movements.
Outside of the classroom, Julia has taken advantage of countless other opportunities to enhance her education. She has had several transformative global experiences, including an Alternative Break trip through LMU’s Center for Service and Action to Morocco during the winter break of her freshman year; a summer study abroad program in 2022 in Croatia with an additional month spent abroad completing two internships; and a BCLA global immersion course to Ireland/N. Ireland in March 2023. Although Lemmon has always loved travel for its ability to help you grow, learn, and challenge yourself, she specifically credits these experiences for providing a “deepened, more enriched understanding of the world, history, and the interconnectedness of everyone.”
Even though these experiences transcended classroom walls, they connected with her experience inside it, as well. For example, learning about religious diversity and the Bosnian War while in in Sarajevo helped Lemmon better understand discussions on ethno-religious conflicts in her Peace and Reconciliation class and religious tensions in her theology class. Because of this, Lemmon says, “I think I gained a bit of a multidimensional perspective on certain issues or topics that made me more informed overall.” She reflects that “There’s something about experiences outside of the classroom that not only let you explore things you would not have been able to otherwise, but also allows you to see everything you have learned being implemented into reality.”
Lemmon’s time studying abroad played a large role in her post-graduation plans. She will be pursuing a master’s degree in International Governance and Diplomacy at Sciences Po in Paris while fulfilling the “adventure I have always wanted to take” of living abroad. Although Lemmon applied to six programs (four in Europe), she believes that Sciences Po’s degree structure, reputation, responsiveness, and overall student-centered approach will be the best next step in achieving her career goal: to be a political Foreign Service Officer for the US Department of State.
Now, looking back at her four years on the bluff, Lemmon wants to remind current students to pursue every opportunity they can while in college. “Even if you do not know if it will work out, try it anyway or ask about it anyway. The worst someone can say is no, but I found that the faculty and staff at LMU, especially in the IR department, work with you to get to a place of yes.” It’s also important to keep in touch with people, whether it is a professor or a guest lecturer you only saw for ten minutes. If you are interested in speaking with them or maintaining a connection with them, just do it—since “You never know when a connection might come in handy and, at the very least, you will have someone to go to when you need professional advice or have questions.” And finally? Enjoy college. Academics are important, but they are not everything. “The experiences you have as a person outside of the classroom, whether it is at an internship or just going to the beach with your friends, makes you a better you. Being a better version of yourself than who you were the day before is the best and most important thing you can do for yourself and your success,” she says.