Like many Uni students, Elsa Paulsen was a member of many clubs throughout her time at Uni High. She contributed to the yearbook, was a member of the Girl's Athletics Association, and learned how to use a typewriter in Typing Club. During her senior year at Uni, she was a member of the C.B.S. broadcast where many schools including Uni were given airtime. Uni students discussed public relief for members of the community very similar to the oral history project that subfreshmen do now.
After graduating in 1940, Elsa received her BA from the University of Illinois, her MA from Indiana University, and her MD from the University of Minnesota where she was her class president. She specialized in diabetics in children and became a professor at the University of Virginia where she performed further research into diabetes. In Virginia, she founded Camp Holidays Trails, a summer camp for children with special medical needs, which still operates to this day. In 1976 she was named Women of the Year by the Virginia Women's Forum.