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Ferrol Paulsen uses General Studies major to explore many options and interests during her education
By Lisa Laughlin
Senior Ferrol Paulsen will walk in graduation this coming December with a unique mix of studies under her belt and some memorable Vandal experiences. Originally from Sequim, Washington, Paulsen came to the University of Idaho and found just what she was looking for in the General Studies department.
“There was something very inviting about campus, and I knew I was supposed to be here,” she said. Paulsen began to pursue a Bachelors degree in Athletic training, but still felt something was lacking.
“It has been a process to find what I am passionate about,” she said. “I tried Education, English, and Art before finding myself in communication. But with there no longer being a communications major, I looked at other options and really enjoyed the freedom that General Studies allowed me.”
So she pursued a General Studies major with a communications minor, and flourished.
“I found that having a General Studies degree has allowed me to look at any option or interests that I have or have had. It was really the freedom to explore myself and my education,” said Paulsen. “For someone like me who refuses to be defined or labeled by a degree or job, I found the ability to explore much more valuable.”
She was able to study specific areas of her interest from varying disciplines, and build a study plan to explore those areas without the full commitment of the degree.
“I really would encourage others to pursue General Studies or even Interdisciplinary Studies. I think students need a very well-rounded education, and by taking a General Studies approach to schooling, I have been able to blend all my areas of interest into a great college experience,” said Paulsen.
While exploring academics, Paulsen was also able to become active in a variety of Vandal activities, both on and off campus. She has been involved with Media Relations for Athletics, was the Hall President of her residential dorm hall, and had the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for a national conference to give a small lecture. She has also been involved with Idaho’s Homecoming since arriving on campus.
“Freshman year I got involved with Homecoming and three years later I was the Homecoming Committee Chair,” she said. “Being involved with such a large Vandal tradition gave me many opportunities I never thought I would have. I met some amazing people who helped me understand myself.”
Also working for three years in the Kibbie Dome, Paulsen got the chance to work directly with ESPN to coordinate the Storm the Dorms event that took place during last UI vs. BSU Football game.
Aside from being so involved at the very heart of Idaho, Paulsen has also represented the Vandals across the nation. She traveled to Sabine Pass, Texas as part of the Spring 2010 Alternative Service Break Trip to help with hurricane relief. The following spring she traveled with Resonate Church to Los Angeles and spent a week living at the Union Rescue Mission, working with the homeless.
“I can’t tell you enough how those trips changed me and gave me an entirely new outlook on the world,” she said. “They also reinforced my drive to help people get back into the work world and back on their feet. So much of who I am now I owe to the experiences I have had at this University.”
After graduation, Paulsen hopes to use her degree to work with high school students on personal and professional development.
“I want to make sure that students are ready and able to enter the workforce or head off to college. The goal is to make sure that younger students understand how to conduct themselves in a professional environment,” she said.
Regardless of where her career takes her, Paulsen will feel confident with her combination of studies from Idaho and will continue to show pride from the Vandal community.
“The University of Idaho not only allowed me the opportunity to get a great education of my choosing, but it brought me and my husband from opposite sides of the United States to meet here. I hope that people know that when we say Vandal Nation and the Vandal Family, we really mean it . . . it is home to so many people across the nation and the world,” she said. “The number of lives that have been affected by the U of I is amazing. Be proud to be a Vandal and keep the family growing.”