Discovering service

UWL senior Garrett Paulson will graduate Sunday, May 14. After graduation, he will help build a stronger foundation for young men across the country as an employee of the National Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity Headquarters.

Recreation management graduate had to grow up fast. He’ll now support growth of young men across the country

Garrett Paulson’s father has been his “foundation” and his “rock” since his mother unexpectedly died when Paulson was only 16.

Now Paulson, a UWL graduating senior, will help build a stronger foundation for young men across the country as an employee of the National Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity headquarters. He’ll be charged with developing new chapters of Delta Sigma Phi as part of the Fraternity Growth Team at various universities throughout the country.

Graduates walk the stage Sunday, May 14 at the La Crosse Center.

Paulson, a Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation major, says he had to grow up fast when his mother died. He helped his father raise his little brother with school work and house duties while balancing his own school work, sports, applying to college, and managing two jobs in high school.

“My dad worked, supported, loved, and did many more things than I could possibly describe,” he says. “He is still my foundation, my rock, my role model and more.”

At UWL, Paulson says he initially wanted to go into athletic training because of personal experiences with sports injuries and he looked up to his aunt, a UWL Physical Therapy program alumna, who had a successful career in the field. But Paulson later found his calling in the Department of Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation. During his time in the program, he took classes that helped him understand the scope of the field such as Daniel Plunkett’s “Introduction to Tourism” class.

“I always thought that tourism was just vacations and not so much as a lifestyle. Tourism is a growing industry. Understanding that tourism can include business, vacation, service trips, and much more is extremely fascinating,” he says. “I want to go on a ‘voluntourism trip’ which is when people take trips to go volunteer and assist those in need. I want to take a mission trip within the next few years and try to serve others with my church or within my fraternity. I want to make an impact on peoples’ lives around me and make a positive difference.”

He took another recreation class with Daniel Widuch that helped him see recreation, not just as a profession, but as an important part of life.

“A question I ask myself often is ‘am I working to live, or am I living to work?’” he says. “I want to have a high quality of life by recreating and enjoying my time. In this class, I was able to reflect personally on what I want in life, and I want to be with people, be outside and be happy.”

During his time at UWL, Paulson gained hands-on experience as an intern at the La Crosse County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Explore La Crosse. Joining UWL’s Delta Sigma Phi fraternity was “by far my best decision on our campus,” he adds.

“Delta Sigma Phi has helped me develop my passion for serving others and this has led me to my decision to repay the debt by working for our National Headquarters to help give other people a life changing experience like the one I have had in my undergraduate career,” he says.

Overall, Paulson says UWL’s Recreation Department gave him experiences for personal and professional growth, “everything that I have wanted with my undergraduate career.”

“It’s also where I found colleagues, friends, and a place where I called home for the last four years,” he says. “I will always be proud to be an Eagle.”

Strong support from scholarships

Garrett Paulson is grateful for many forms of scholarship support as a UWL student:

  • The first-year scholarship from the local Delta Sigma Phi chapter
  • National Delta Sigma Phi McKee Scholarship twice
  • Delta Sigma Phi Senior Leadership Scholarship

The UWL Foundation Scholarships he received:

  • John Metzger Delta Sigma Phi Scholarship — twice
  • Brian and Lori Hesprich Endowment Fund Scholarship
  • Delta Sigma Phi High GPA Scholarship
  • Delta Sigma Phi Academic Scholarship
  • Dr. William “Bill” Otto Recreation Scholarship
  • Alice DeBower Undergraduate Distinguished Service for Graduating Seniors in Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation
  • Alice DeBower Recreation Alumni Scholarship