Eugenia Paulus sees herself as an individual who has an opportunity to transform the lives of students. As a mentor, she is a confidential advocate for the student, and she commits to student and mentee success through structured dialogue and reflection. She believes she can make a difference in the lives of her students at the community college level by equipping them with skills that are provided at four-year institutions, by making them aware of available opportunities, and by assisting them in their preparation for transfer to a four-year institution or for employment.
Dr. Paulus has been serving as a mentor to students and early career adults for about fifteen years. Since the beginning of her faculty position at North Hennepin Community College (NHCC), she has served as mentor for approximately 100 students, and in the past year alone, more than 10 early career adults have sought her guidance and are making use of her mentoring skills. As part of her mentoring program, students receive information about internships (including assistance in completing internship applications), encouragement to participate in and network at science conferences and research symposia, and opportunities to get involved in undergraduate research. For community college students, the opportunity to attend a conference is an academic dream come true, and she attempts to provide at least one conference experience for each student she mentors.
Data collected for more than five years consistently demonstrate the positive impact of her mentoring program. Compared to retention rates in the Minnesota community college system (about 50 percent), the dropout/retention rate of students in Paulus’ mentoring program is much lower, with a success rate greater than or equal to 90 percent.
In addition to authoring a book on community college success in the sciences, which has been widely read, Dr. Paulus has received the following honors:
- Faculty Excellence Award for the project “Promoting Student Success in Under-Prepared Students in the Chemistry Laboratory,” 2006
- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching Award, 2008
- Carnegie and CASE US Professor of the Year National Award for Extraordinary Dedication to Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring, 2008
- National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Award, 2009
- North Hennepin Community College Annual Student Life Faculty Excellence Award, 2015