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June 5, 2024

Student Spotlight: Jennifer Shaw ‘24 (Arts and Culture, A.S.)

Jennifer Shaw headshot

Meet Jennifer Shaw, an inspiring changemaker and remarkable parent who is transforming lives worldwide. Shaw mentors students in Uganda while working full-time. 

After graduating with her associate degree in May, she plans to enroll in the Bachelor of Social Work program at Roberts. This program’s academic work will support her goal to further deepen her work in Uganda. 

Shaw has already seen the benefits of going back to school, as her education has already helped her earn a promotion from Administrative Assistant to Operations Manager. Shaw is a student who has a deep commitment to servant leadership – let’s get to know her.

Shaw on a mission trip to Uganda

Shaw on a mission trip to Uganda

What is your job and how do you use your Roberts education to inform your current career?

I work at Dick’s Sporting Goods. As I implement the lessons, I’ve learned to become a more thoughtful leader who works to inspire and uplift those around me. I have developed the confidence to implement new ideas at work which have helped me grow in my role, take on more responsibility, and earn a promotion! I was promoted from Administrative Assistant to the Operations Manager.

I spend my free time mentoring college students in Uganda. I work with young adults who work hard to overcome the trauma war and poverty bring to their lives. 

By crowd-sourcing funding for school supplies, transportation, food, and housing costs as well as offering wisdom on building faith, character, personal finance, and safety I help ease their burdens so they can focus solely on their education.

Shaw and 2 college students in Uganda

Shaw and college students in Uganda

What’s next in your educational journey?

I am in the application process for the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program! My desire to pursue a career change is deeply rooted in my lifelong passion for helping others. 

My experiences volunteering and time in Uganda have solidified my commitment to making a career change into social work. Becoming a counselor, guiding individuals through trauma recovery, fostering authenticity, and supporting personal growth align perfectly with my values and aspirations. 

Pursuing this path will not only fulfill my desire to help others but also allow me to turn my passion into a meaningful career.

Shaw and her daughter, Fiona

Shaw and her daughter, Fiona

What’s it like to be a parent going back to school?

As a single mom, I’m taking a leap of faith by investing in my future academically. The Roberts program, tailored for adult students, has provided a perfect pathway to transition back to school while I work full-time and raise my daughter. 

The asynchronous classes allow me to balance my schedule between work, parenthood, and academics. That means I can still be present for my daughter and all her activities and study at night and on the weekends. The best of both worlds!

What’s the most helpful thing you’ve learned here?

The most helpful thing I have learned at Roberts is to lean into who I am, listen to the perspectives of others around me, and allow my education to enhance my natural gifts.  

What course has been your favorite and why?

To pick a favorite class is nearly impossible! My Principle of Speech class with Mallary Wiley comes to mind as an unexpected surprise. 

At first, giving a speech each week felt intimidating. However, she fostered a supportive environment full of caring and encouraging classmates where we could exercise our newfound skills with confidence. 

I have found every class along the way to be enriching. From learning about history, culture, and leadership to music and the arts, every class has given me tremendous insight and helped me form a solid foundation from which to view the world. 

What advice would you give to incoming Adult and Graduate students, especially fellow parents?

Go for it! If you have a desire stirring inside you, pray about it, and don’t let anything hold you back. Embrace the challenge, prioritize your goals, and remember that every step forward is a step closer to achieving your dreams. 

Your journey may be filled with additional responsibilities as an adult or a parent, but know that your determination and perseverance will lead you to success. The professors at Roberts are there to help you succeed. Believe in yourself, trust your faith and instincts, and let your passion drive you forward!

What academic or professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of deepening my character development through the Arts and Culture classes I took at Roberts. Through hard work and dedication, I will be graduating with a 4.0!

Shaw smiles during a hike at the Grand Canyon

Shaw at the Grand Canyon

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I love to hike. I once hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day. It was 24 miles & 5,000 feet elevation on each rim! I enjoy exploring local trails with my daughter.  

If you could help everyone understand one thing, what would it be and why?

Taking time to nurture your faith and develop your virtues and character is so important! Whether through education, prayer, or self-care, committing to this journey enriches our lives and enhances our ability to engage with others meaningfully. Each step we take toward personal growth creates a ripple effect of inspiration for those around us!

Faculty Feedback

Matt Moore headshot

 “Like so many of our Arts and Culture students, Jenn Shaw has a strong sense of calling and motivation to pursue these plans by taking classes in our program. A keen interest in learning and an openness to what her various courses offered have helped make Jenn one of the most successful students in the program. She regularly shared her personal experiences and curiosities such as photography in the assignments and discussions, which always added color to the experience."

 -Matt Moore, Associate Professor of Humanities; Director, Traditional Undergraduate General Education

Deborah Gruttadauria headshot

"As a working parent and student, Jennifer has never missed a beat. She’s a self-starter and successfully balances her priorities between the roles she filled. She’s determined, dedicated, and went above and beyond each and every week. She has strong communication skills, she’s complimentary and supportive, and she always put great effort into class discussions.   

Upon entering my class, Jennifer was an administrative assistant. Through the knowledge and confidence she gained in class, Jennifer has excelled and is being promoted into a management position. I am glad to have been part of Jenn’s journey!" 

-Deborah Gruttadauria, Adjunct Professor

Are you ready to go all in like Jennifer?

Click here to learn more about our Bachelor of Social Work designed for working adults.

Or, if you have less than 60 college credits, click here to learn more about our Associate of Arts and Culture program.

For more news articles, you can take a look at our archive.