Eric Paulsen: Focusing on Helping People

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An Army and Air Force veteran, Eric Paulsen, '16, is using his social welfare degree to move from a technical career into the helping professions.

Eric Paulsen, '16Eric Paulsen has served in the Army and Air Force. He’s also worked for Boeing and the Washington State Patrol. Paulsen has a self-described “technical background,” which makes his decision to become a social worker just a little surprising. “Helping people is what I love,” said Paulsen.

The 43-year-old graduates in June with a degree in social welfare. He has a short break before starting work on his master’s in social work at UW in Seattle.

Paulsen wants to work for the Veteran’s Administration, a decision based largely on his experience in the military. “I have friends that were changed forever by war,” said Paulsen. “Some got divorced, some thought about suicide, some started using drugs to self-medicate.”

Paulsen is a first-generation student. “When I got out of high school I didn’t think college was ever going to be an option,” said Paulsen. He returned to school after getting laid off from a job and did his first two years at Green River Community College before transferring to UW Tacoma.

As a transfer student, Paulsen was eligible to receive a Next Step Scholarship. The program provides up to $6,000 a year to top students from seven local community colleges. Paulsen says the funds helped him direct his energies toward being a student which he believes is the key to academic success. “If you’re going to put in the time and the expense to be here then you have to focus on why you’re here and stick with it,” said Paulsen.

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 6, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or