Student News

School counseling student Lucas Paulsen selected as national scholarship recipient

Photo of Lucas Paulsen

Lucas Paulsen

Lucas Paulsen, a student in the Master of Education program in school counseling, was chosen by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) as the recipient of a 2010 ASCA Foundation Scholarship. Paulsen is one of 10 recipients of the $1,000 scholarship out of a nationwide pool of 150 graduate student applicants. The scholarship is sponsored by the ASCA Foundation in collaboration with the Anheuser-Busch Foundation. It is awarded to students in full-time master’s-level school counseling programs.

The ASCA Foundation is designed to help school counselors fulfill their educational goals. One of the main objectives of the scholarship program is to encourage males and minority students to enter the school counseling profession.

Applicants for the scholarship were required to write a two-page essay answering the question, “How do school counselors utilize leadership, advocacy and collaboration to effect systematic change in schools to maximize student success?” 

In his essay, Paulsen highlighted some personal experiences during his school counseling internship at Riverside High School in Durham when he exercised advocacy and leadership on behalf of students. For example, Paulsen advocated for a homeless student by walking him through the registration process, contacting his previous schools for transcripts and helping place him in the appropriate classes.

Also, despite very limited funding for the school counseling staff, Paulsen was able to organize a college tour trip for students at Riverside High School. By contacting community businesses and agencies, he was able to subsidize a portion of the trip, making it possible for low-income students to participate.

 Gwen Roulhac, Paulsen’s onsite supervisor at Riverside, has noticed his determination to do whatever is needed to promote student success. “In contrast to my apprehension about how to make the [college field] trip available to students who could not financially afford to participate, Luke’s position was the surely there must be a way to find money for these students,” said Roulhac. “In his advocacy for low-income students, he prepared a proposal to request funds from community agencies and businesses. Not only did he receive donations that made it possible for low-income students to participate in the trip, he was also able to get the fee reduced for the [chartered] bus.”

Paulsen believes that the ASCA scholarship will enhance his graduate school experience in multiple ways. “This scholarship will alleviate some of the financial burden and allow me to have experiences that otherwise may not have been possible,” said Paulsen. He plans to use some of the scholarship money to fund a trip to Lebanon where he will study the education system and culture.  He hopes this experience will give him a deeper understanding of working with students and communities in a different culture. 

Paulsen received his undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where he majored in Hispanic studies. After graduating, he moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., and entered the New York City Teaching Fellows program. He earned a Master of Science in Education degree in special education from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York while teaching eighth-grade special education for three years.

Paulsen will complete his M.Ed. in school counseling at the School of Education in August 2010.

In the future, Paulsen hopes to pursue a career counseling high school students somewhere on the East Coast or possibly at an international school. His ultimate goal is to become a leader in public education in order to facilitate change in the public school system.

“Lucas certainly has demonstrated a passion for school counseling. He thinks deeply about how schools and school counselors can help kids thrive – and always takes action,” said Patrick Akos, coordinator of the School Counseling Program. “I have seen him make an impact on a family trying to keep their son out of a gang, on study skills in a classroom of diverse learners, and with district superintendents about the importance of the ASCA (school counseling) National Model. He is going to make a difference in education.”