Agent of Change
Kim Paulsen ’86 gives back to the college
that helped turn her fortune around.
BY SARA GILBERT
It took Kim Paulsen '86 only a few
years to realize that dropping out
of high school wasn't the best career
By the time the Twin Cities native
had celebrated her 20th birthday, she
knew she needed a college degree to
make anything out of her life.
"I had no chance for success without
that degree," she concedes.
So she completed her GED and
enrolled in community college. And
today, more than 20 years later, she also
has a bachelor of science in chemistry
from the College of St. Catherine and a
Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the
University of Minnesota. Paulsen is a
senior-level scientist and project leader
at DiaSorin, a medical diagnostics
company based in Stillwater, Minn.
Even after studying two
years at a community
college, Paulsen was overwhelmed
by the thought of
a four-year college. But
when a friend recommended
St. Kate's, she found it was
just the right fit.
"I had a lot of catching
up to do, and I didn't have
Paulsen says. "I needed that
extra boost that you get in
a small community and one that believes
in and supports women."
At 24, Paulsen was older than the
students starting right after high school
graduation. She commuted to and from
classes, which limited her connection to
campus. And, because she was paying
her own way, she had to wait tables
almost every night, which hampered her
ability to socialize with friends.
Still, she felt welcome and recognized.
"I was never just a number," she says.
"People talked to me and helped me out."
Science courses had piqued her interest
in community college, and Paulsen was
delighted to find that St. Catherine's
chemistry department fit her to a "T."
|At St. Catherine's, Paulsen found
the support and encouragement
she needed to succeed.|
Classes rarely had more than a dozen
students. And most professors were
women who helped her shape her
dream of going on to graduate school.
"I didn't feel bombarded by the male
way of doing things," she says. "By
the time I got to the University of
Minnesota, where only a few of the 40
or so professors were female, I knew I
could make it."
Helping Other Women
Consistent giving to the Annual Fund
allows Paulsen to help make college
possible for many types of students.
"There are a lot of women out there
- younger women, older women, single
moms, working moms, really any
women who have been through a rough
patch - who need a little
extra help," she says.
A full 90 percent of the
students at St. Catherine's
receive some form of financial
aid, much of which is
funded in part by gifts to the
Annual Fund. Every donation helps
make that assistance possible.
The Annual Fund also supports
current needs of the College.
"I'm glad I can give what I can,"
Paulsen says, "and I trust St. Catherine's
to do what's best with it."
For more information, visit the Annual Fund website.