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Paul Nielsen

Graduate Student
Class of 2011
Alma Mater:

Independent Alum of the Day

I grew up in Stevensville, MI – A small town about half-an-hour north of South Bend, IN. Wrapping up my senior year at Lakeshore High School, I was all set to begin my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. However, looking back now, the Lord had quite a different plan for my college education. After visiting a friend at Spring Arbor University near the end of Spring term, I felt a strange urge to apply for admission. Within a month, I had applied to SAU, was accepted, and had enrolled for the upcoming Fall semester.

The small, intimate setting allowed me to engage in a number of student leadership roles. As a Peer Advisor for two years, I had the wonderful opportunity to mentor new students in making a successful transition from high school to college. My senior year, I served as Student Body Vice-President in Student Government Association. Each of these roles contributed immensely to my personal development as a leader.

Graduating from Spring Arbor with a BA in Psychology in 2007, I was hired by a community mental health clinic in Jackson, MI as a clinical case manager. In this role, I supported a caseload of individuals within the community diagnosed with chronic and acute mental illness. Those two years of service proved to be dynamic times in shaping my passion for people, as well as my professional aspirations.

In 2013, I decided to move on to further education, in which I was introduced to the Philanthropic Studies program at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The coursework has been both interesting and challenging, contributing to my conceptualization of theoretical concepts influencing the relationship between nonprofit and greater society. From a practical standpoint, I have worked as a Graduate Assistant at the Anthem Foundation – a corporate foundation operating as the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. Through this work as a program officer, I have developed skills in grants management and program evaluation. The combination of academic and professional experience has (hopefully!) molded me into a well-rounded practitioner within the nonprofit sector. I am excited to begin a new chapter in life as I prepare for graduation in May.

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