SDCCD and UC San Diego PATH partnership leads to Careers and Tuition-Free Degrees in Humanities

A career in the humanities is coming full circle for San Diego Miramar College Assistant English Professor and Ph.D. Candidate, Heather Paulson. A profession she achieved through the Preparing Accomplished Transfers to the Humanities (PATH) Integrated Fellowship Initiative, a partnership between the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and the University of California, San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities.

“Great mentors have helped me on my journey toward earning a doctoral degree,” said Paulson, a first-generation graduate of Miramar College. “PATH has been influential, I wanted to become a full-time community college professor because of the transformational experience I had as a student and to get to do that now is a dream.”

Prior to being selected for PATH, Paulson taught English at Miramar College as an adjunct instructor. Now she teaches as an assistant professor while achieving her Ph.D. in Literature and Critical Gender Studies at UC San Diego.

PATH is funded by a 3-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which benefits both UC San Diego Ph.D. Arts and Humanities students and SDCCD transfer students. The PATH Integrated Fellowship Initiative develops leaders in teaching, administration, and mentoring to introduce fellows to a wide range of academic teaching and leadership positions within the community college system. Additionally, for no-cost, PATH guides SDCCD transfer students from City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges into Arts and Humanities majors at UC San Diego. Students receive transfer guidance, weekly meetings with a mentor, and academic and professional development opportunities.

“Studying the humanities is just as important and meaningful as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math,” said Paulson. “There is a significant divide in this country, pursuing the humanities allows for a deeper more holistic view. Humanities affect how we behave, how we vote, and how we understand the world.”

At Miramar College, Assistant Professor Paulson is developing her students as critical thinkers as they themselves become PATH applicants. She teaches English 101 from a global perspective, students learn about the relationship between the United States toward other countries through literature, and in her English 205 course, students focus on rhetorical analysis in social political movements such as the advocacy of Civil Rights, Farm Workers, Chicanos, Me Too, and Black Lives Matter.

Paulson started working in academia as a Corps Member for Teach for America, teaching elementary children on the islands of Hawaii. Prior to her arrival at Miramar College, Paulson worked as a Ph.D. Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as an English Teacher at Cal Coast Academy, as a Graduate Student Instructor at UC San Diego, as well as a world traveler, taking a gap year backpacking through Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, and Europe.

Paulson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Gender and Women’s studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in Literature from UC San Diego.

PATH Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year will open Spring 2023. To learn more about the PATH program or to apply visit,

Heather Paulson