Student profile: Paul Nelson strives to serve

First year political science major Paul Nelson is a student senator in his first semester at USM. Before beginning attending USM, he served in the National Guard, and he intends to return to active duty after graduation.
Patrick Higgins
First year political science major Paul Nelson is a student senator in his first semester at USM. Before beginning attending USM, he served in the National Guard, and he intends to return to active duty after graduation.

Posted on December 01, 2013 in News
By Sloane Ewell

Paul Nelson, first year political science major, has already been working to make changes at USM and hear all student voices.

Nelson is originally from Old Town and is a 2012 graduate of Old Town High School. Right after high school Nelson enlisted in the National Guard where he worked in the United States to support operations overseas for a year and a half. Nelson still spends one weekend every month training with the National Guard, and the National Guard helps him pay for his education.

“I had friends who went into the political science major and loved it. I know that this was the best decision for me as a person and my future,” Nelson said of his choice to attend USM.

After USM, Nelson plans to continue his military career from what he’s learned as a political science major. “I plan on going into active duty. I plan on pursuing my military career for fourteen or more years so that I can give back on an even bigger scale,” he said. “I want to see things be different and be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to be able to say ‘I helped people, I saved lives,’” Nelson said.

Usually, student senate members campaign in the fall and are elected in the spring. Because this is Nelson’s first semester, the process went a little differently for him. “I was asked what I could bring to the table. My goal was to give back and get to know and support other students.”

Nelson explained he had more than classroom experience in leadership. “I also was in charge of 1,500 people when I was in Texas for the military, so I had experience leading. Then I was elected,” Nelson said.

As a senator, he said, he has already worked to make his goal of helping others a reality. Nelson works to gain students’ respect and trust by simply getting to know them. “I make it a point to meet one student every week. I go up to someone, give them a handshake and introduce myself,” he said. “I always ask what they would like to see change at USM and work to make it a better place. I want students to know that their voices are heard. USM is a large, diverse school, and it‘s important to include everyone,” Nelson said.

Outside of working in the student senate, Nelson is also a part of the fraternity Phi Mu Delta, which helps him stay involved in the events of the university, like a Rock-a-thon that raised money for St. Joseph’s hospital. The fraternity also acted as security for USM’s Royal Majesty Drag Competition, which took place on the Nov. 22.  “Working with Phi Mu Delta is about promoting unity and philanthropy,” Nelson said.

At 19 years-old,  Paul Nelson is one of the youngest senators at USM, and he feels that he already has made some accomplishments at USM. But Nelson also has a lot more that he plans to do to help others. He said that he wants to continue listening to students so that he can improve USM, and he urges people to attend senate meetings on Fridays to be heard.