Name: Fredericka Paulson
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Why did you choose UChicago?
The academic rigor, the people, the team, and the city. The education you receive here is unparalleled and the passionate and unique culture is inspiring. After seeing the team and the coaching staff’s presence with each other and the love and kindness they exuded, I knew that UChicago would be the perfect fit for me.
Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
One of my favorite moments was definitely our home game against No. 1-ranked Calvin last fall. We came in ranked No. 6, and we gave them their first loss of the season in four sets. It was the most intense and fun game of volleyball I have ever played. The crowd was insane and the entire gym felt electric. I thought that match exemplified our nature as a team and the love we carried not only for the game but also for each other. It was a huge defining match for our team that showed what we were capable of and what we had the opportunity to achieve that season.
Favorite team tradition/activity?
I love our dance parties in the locker room to get hyped up before games. I also am a huge fan of words of affirmation, and after the season ends, we have a tradition of doing a big affirmation circle to talk about the seniors. Those are really, really special.
What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
I was an extremely awkward, tall, skinny seventh grader, so naturally volleyball was a great fit. I fell in love with the team camaraderie, the intense skill, and the highly competitive nature of volleyball. I couldn’t get a serve over the net to save my life, but I loved every minute on the court.
What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
I’ve learned about failure and growth, and a lot about being a person people can depend on. The way you carry yourself, both on and off the court, is seen and perceived by everyone else on the team and says a lot about who you are. I learned so much from watching my captains each year about what it means to be a leader and how to encourage those around you to be their very best.
What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
I would advise them to lean on their teammates and to have faith in themselves. UChicago and volleyball have so much to offer, and the team is one of your greatest support systems. Take this time to grow and establish who you are and what you stand for. Really soak it all in and make incredible memories with some amazing people!
Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
I really enjoyed a Marketing Management course I took my second year with Professor McKinney. It was a challenging course that pushed me to develop business intuition as well as marketing strategy and analysis skills. Professor McKinney had a lasting impact on me in teaching me how to analyze real world problems and synthesize recommendations that address specific marketing issues.
Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
One of my career advisors, Vishal Jain, was very impactful in my development and career search, especially over the last two years. He inspired a lot of confidence in myself, helped me to identify my interests, and pushed me to pursue career paths I was passionate about.
Favorite place on campus?
The Rockefeller bell tower is definitely one of my favorite spots on campus. You can take a student led tour up 270 spiral steps to the very top of the tower, where there is a beautiful open-air walkway. It’s a hidden adventure on campus that has incredible views of the lake, the city, and UChicago.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Currently pursuing careers within the corporate space. Before starting full-time, I am also hoping to explore a few national parks upon graduating early this winter!
Outside of your current sport, which sport or activity do you feel like you would excel at the most?
I did swim team for a while growing up, and sometimes I think it could have been fun to stick with it a little longer than I did. Now that volleyball is over, I really want to get into bouldering. Chicago has some really fun bouldering gyms I am hoping to frequent, once COVID allows.
Favorite Chicago restaurant?
A favorite Hyde park spot of mine is Salonica, it’s the cutest little Greek cafe and I’m a breakfast-all-day kind of girl. In Chicago in general, there’s no way I could choose. I don’t like going to the same place twice, and there are endless amazing food spots in the city. You truly could never exhaust Chicago’s incredible restaurant scene.
Favorite place you’ve visited?
I went on a family vacation to Turks and Caicos, and it was the most beautiful and exciting place I have ever been. Once you leave the main island, there are no tourists anywhere and the beaches are pristine and just insanely gorgeous. It was the best snorkeling of my life and we just had an incredible time exploring and finding adventures.