So, hey. My name is Doug Paulsen, I'm 23 years old, and I am an incoming transfer student from an out state community college, Central Lakes College. I am transferring into the College of Liberal Arts as a junior. Currently, my major is undeclared because I am missing a pre-req (Calc 1) to declare my intended major, which is Economics.
I graduated from Pierz Healy High School 5 years ago, in 2001, and my journey to this point has been long, winding, and very much more complicated than it needed to be. It all starts a couple weeks after I graduated, when I shipped to Basic Combat Training at Ft. Benning, GA, as a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard.
My plan was to attend Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical with a goal of an AAS in Computer Programming – Microcomputer in the fall. That didn’t happen. I returned from Basic a week late and I didn’t want to rush down and try to attend after missing the first week. So I laid around my parent’s house for a few weeks, and then went to work at Crestliner, a boat builder in Little Falls, MN.
When I enlisted into the National Guard, I did so under the ‘split option’ program. Under this program, which is usually used for high school juniors, a recruit attends Basic Training one summer, then the second part, Advanced Individual Training, the next summer. It allows a junior to attend Basic between his/her junior and senior years, but it also can be used if the recruit enlists during his/her senior year and wants to attend college in the fall. This is what I did. With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t do this again. (Not just because it didn't work out, but also when I did go back the next summer I was in a different mindset and slightly out of shape.) The reason I did do it though was because my mom didn’t want me to miss a semester as she wanted me in school right away.
So I was working at Crestliner, and it didn’t appear that I was going to Afghanistan anytime soon (this was the fall of September 2001,) so I started looking at what I was going to do about school. The obvious option was to go down to Red Wing, but my heart was kind of out of that. I started to get this Crazy Idea in my head to attend the University of Minnesota, a small change in ambitions from a tech school. My mom wanted me to apply for the spring semester or attend CLC for a semester, but I resisted. I had been talking to a good friend from high school who was in his senior year and was also planning on attending the U in the fall of 2002. So I continued working through the spring of 2002, both at Crestliner and later at a dairy farm.
I had thought my ship date for AIT (Advanced Individual Training, the second part of Basic) was in the end of May. In April I asked about the exact date to firm things up and was surprised to find out that my ship date was actually June 24. Knowing that my school was about 12 weeks long did not make me feel any better, as this put my completion date around the end of September. I tried to change it, but to no avail. So on June 24, I headed for Fort Lee, VA. Shortly after arriving, my fears were confirmed when I found out my graduation date was going to be October 1. There was a small ray of hope, though. There was a way to go home up to a month early to attend school while still graduating. I began the initial process, but soon I had a dilemma. I was leading my class and was well on my way to graduating at the top, at being the Distinguished Honor Graduate. If I went home early, I would merely just graduate.
I made the choice to stay, and indeed I did graduate as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. Yet once again, and for no particularily good reason, I decided not to start spring semester at the U, but instead I went to CLC for the spring semester to take some generals. And that is when I met Michelle…