Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, December 16, 2019

Laura Bunn, MIPA

Laura Bunn Laura Bunn

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Hometown
Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in international studies, journalism, and Spanish, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2019

Achievements/Honors
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) in Portuguese

Expected graduation date
May 2020

What did you do before enrolling at the La Follette School?
As an undergraduate at UW–Madison, I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and with the Global Gateway program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My experience in Rio de Janeiro inspired me to learn Portuguese, and the summer before starting at the La Follette School, I returned to Brazil to conduct a Hilldale research project and reporting internship with a nongovernmental organization. Interviews with local community organizers taught me grassroots information about public policy issues in Rio de Janeiro.

Why the La Follette School?
I was drawn to this program because I wanted to develop my skills for evaluating and drafting policies and for interpreting data to better understand complex international issues. I also chose the La Follette School because of its interdisciplinary approach to public policy.

Career goals
I am interested in a career in journalism and policy related to Latin America. Topics that interest me include community-based development, sustainability, and immigration.

Project assistantship
I am a project assistant for the Institute for Regional and International Studies. My PAship allows me to interact with and learn from people engaged in both outreach and research about regions and themes that interest me, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn and practice administrative skills.

Summer internship
I worked for the U.S. State Department as an intern in the Political/Economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. My primary responsibilities included drafting, researching, and contributing to cables, speeches, and briefing memos; providing support for official Embassy events; providing input to daily press product for Washington, DC; and attending official meetings with diplomats.

Internship project example
One of my first assignments included writing a speech for the Deputy Chief of the Mission to present at a conference about gender equality in Portugal. With edits from my direct supervisor and other diplomats, this project helped me to grow as a speechwriter, editor, and researcher. As the only woman pursuing a MIPA in my La Follette School cohort, it was inspiring to see firsthand how women have an increasing and valuable role in shaping politics and foreign policy.

Academic/career mentors
Mo O’Connor and Lisa Hildebrand have been thoughtful about giving me opportunities that enhance my interests in policy and communications, such as collaborating with the UW Foundation and Alumni Association to interview La Follette School alumnus Daniel Speckhard for the Thank You, 72 podcast.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Use your time at the La Follette School to explore options and take a variety of electives to develop and apply skills and knowledge. In fall 2019, for example, beyond required courses, I’ve gained a lot from taking a video journalism course in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a negotiations course in the Wisconsin School of Business, and a transportation course in the Urban and Regional Planning program.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
I highly recommend applying for the La Follette School Summer Policy Learning Experience (internship grant) – it made possible my internship in Portugal!

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
am getting married in Brazil! I met my fiancé while on the UW–Madison Global Gateway trip to Rio de Janeiro, and he taught me Portuguese.