Trustee Noreen Poulson COL ’78
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Noreen Lavan Poulson graduated from the University of Virginia in 1978. As a member of one of the first classes to accept women in the College, she found academic, athletic and service opportunities to be readily available and exciting. While majoring in English, Noreen played varsity field hockey, becoming a co-captain her fourth year; was briefly a walk-on for the varsity basketball team; and was selected as a member of the softball teams that represented UVA at Virginia State Tournaments, the forerunners of varsity softball teams throughout the state. Off-season, she could be found participating in intramural athletics and met her husband, John “Jack” Poulson (Com ’78), while playing water polo at Mem Gym.
Having been raised in a family where giving back was considered an integral part of daily life, Noreen became a Resident Advisor as well a tutor for the Summer Transition program. Sponsored by the Office of Admissions, this program was established to assist incoming first year students in need of pre-matriculation academic support.
As an alumna, Noreen decided the best way to continue giving back to the University was to join the Jefferson Trust. In her own words:
“One of the most intellectually exciting aspects of being a Trustee is exposure to a broad range of initiatives that arise from students, faculty and staff pan-University to enhance the student experience and strengthen UVA’s global reputation for excellence.
I have been a Trustee for six years, and it has been rewarding to see the Jefferson Trust model of providing seed money to support development of new ideas launch opportunities that have gained permanent funding from other sources because of the positive impact grant recipients have made on the life of the University.
Having served as a Resident Advisor in college and graduate school and currently working with low-income college-bound students, I have a keen interest in student-led grants. I particularly enjoy listening to students pitch a grant proposal about which they are passionate. Over my six years with the Trust, I have had the privilege of watching several student-led grants prove to be ahead-of-trend; upon achieving success, these initiatives are now having lasting impact as permanent programs with ongoing funding.
One such grant is called “Flash Seminars.” Begun in 2011, these student-driven one-time seminars are quickly organized, similar to Flash Mobs, on current events topics, drawing on speakers from around the University who are subject matter experts. Topics have ranged from “Revolutionizing Design: 3D Printing” to “The 2016 Electoral Map.”
Also, as part of the Jefferson Trust’s Trustee Mentoring Program, I have had the honor to mentor the remarkable “HeArt of Medicine” grant. Begun by a collaborative group of nursing and medical students under the guidance of Dr. John A. Owen,(EdD, MSc) the grant recipients developed an extracurricular workshop series to take an in-depth look at both the science and art surrounding death, dying and end-of-life care. A modest grant (in terms of dollar amount received from the Trust), this program now reaches 100% of medical students and a large number of nursing students and has the phenomenal ability to touch each of us in our life journeys. The HeArt of Medicine grant seeks to make conversation and medical information about death and dying more open and approachable to the nursing and medical students who are becoming our health care leaders of the future. This program has the potential to touch the lives of even more people, as it could be a replicable model for other nursing and medical schools.
Please consider the Jefferson Trust and join us in helping to select and fund ground-breaking new ideas at the University.”
Noreen as mentor to HeArt of Medicine grant recipients