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Travis Thul: A tribute to Paul Sorenson

Travis Thul: A tribute to Paul Sorenson

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Earlier this month, Winona lost a hero. He wasn’t a soldier, a police officer, or a fireman, nor did he wear a cape – this hero changed lives through his work as a technical college teacher. For the last decades of his life,

Paul Sorenson taught machining and advanced manufacturing at Minnesota State College Southeast. Over the years, Paul mentored hundreds of students, from 15-year-old high schoolers to adults looking to re-enter the workforce. Paul’s gift was not only in the training of these students for high paying jobs, but to mentor them and give them confidence over intimidating curriculum.

Paul’s efforts transcended education, having spent time between the college’s Winona campus and Winona High School. His ambition to grow these students shown daily; he served on innumerable FIRST Robotics teams, helping hundreds of young engineers build their dreams; he partnered with the Winona Chamber of Commerce and Winona High to offer summer internships on short notice; he was instrumental in the state-leading REACH program, having trained its first graduates; and he seemed to always be on campus, leaving his door open to industry, youth, and curious visitors alike to learn more about the profession he loved.

Our community has not only lost a great educator, but a generous man who helped inspire a generation of students become confident and world class professionals. Paul – we’ll miss seeing you in the shop, finding you reading at the Acoustic Café, and fixing mills at the high school, but we will never forget you.

Travis Thul



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