Making a difference after following an unknown path

Paulina Fuhrmann, a senior political science major, from Collinsville, Illinois  never imagined going to college until her mom told her she was too smart not to try.

Now Fuhrmann is graduating, and was chosen to speak for the College of Arts and Sciences at commencement.

Fuhrmann said she struggled in high school which discouraged her from going to college after graduation, but changed her mind after a conversation with her mother. 

During her senior year of high school, Fuhrmann was not sure which career path she wanted to follow. Eventually, she became interested in politics 

“I worked on a campaign for a congressional representative, and at that time I didn’t know what I wanted to do and really got interested in the political atmosphere and interested in politics, and that is when I decided I wanted to go to school for political science,” Fuhrmann said. 

She started taking online aptitude quizzes to help decide what her career should be. Most of the time, the results of the quizzes were a lawyer or an attorney.

“I started to get really fascinated by the law. I was also fascinated by what attorneys are able to do and all the things that attorneys are good at or have to do that I really excelled in, like reading, writing and communication,“ Fuhrmann said. 

Once she got into college, her mindset changed when it came to her academics. She focused on her studies and even joined Alpha Sigma Tau, a sorority at SIUE. She also served on the Panhellenic Council, which oversees five sororities on campus, for three years.

She was involved with the Political Science Association and has been a member of a couple of other organizations here at SIUE. All of these accomplishments led her to be considered to represent the College of Arts and Sciences as the student commencement speaker. 

Political science professor Andrew Theising said he always had positive experiences with Fuhrmann as a student. 

“She is a very diligent student and one of the kindest students that professors really enjoyed having in class. She is there and engaged, asking good questions and helps answer questions and keeps the discussion going ... so I always enjoyed having Paulina in class,” Theising said. 

Political Science Department Chair Ken Moffett said Fuhrmann has many characteristics of a good student.

“I had her as a student and she epitomizes some of the things that I like to see in excellent students as a faculty member. So that ranges from anything from regularly coming to class and being really engaged and asking really smart questions, and as difficulties come up or issues come up in the course, she reaches out about them and she is very proactive in terms of how she goes about her work,” Moffett said.

Although she may not have originally planned on going to college, Fuhrmann now plans on going to law school in Fall 2021. 

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