EU Alumni Perspective: Mark E. Shaw
Name: Mark E. Shaw
Graduation Year: 1972
Major: Double Concentration in Psychology and Sociology
Current Position: I have retired from the church but have remained actively ordained. I have also retired from hospital chaplaincy and from providing clinical therapy. However, I have returned to work part-time in an outpatient counseling center. I missed the work. Some of aforementioned employment situations overlapped in sequence.
City and State: I currently reside in La Crosse, WI, and have lived there for the past almost 40 years. I have also resided in Winona, MN, Evanston, IL, Eugene, OR, and Beloit, WI.
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
As previously noted, I am retired from all professional aspects of ministry. However, after three months of retirement, I missed my work enough that I returned to providing outpatient therapy in a clinical format via an outpatient private practice in La Crosse, WI. I was previously a Mayo employee for over 38 years before my most recent transition to private practice.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
What I remember the most is the sense of collegiality I experienced with students and faculty at the college/university. I had never experienced such theological commonality among peers and staff as I did at Evangel. Prior to attending Evangel, I spent two and a half years at a state college in Minnesota. This was during the Vietnam era. Every evening we would be provided news of the body counts, how many Viet Cong were killed, and how many Americans had lost their lives that day. It was a most unpopular and nationally divisive action. It was not deemed a war until it was over – as if being “over” ever occurred. It was
referred to as policing action. Things were in such a state of “being in a flux.” I will never forget a peer who once said to me that the 60s were fun. I was taken aback by this comment and asked, “Were you there?” It was certainly anything but fun! It was a time of unrest no matter where a person aligned him/herself politically, morally, ethically, or spiritually. Tune in, turn on, and drop off was part of the motif of that era. LSD was a going item of the time.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
It was during this time of social and political unrest that I felt I had come to a fork in the road. Which way I would go seemed uncertain and yet I felt as if the hand of God was resting on my shoulder. There was a direction, a path for me to walk, and it led to my application at Evangel. They accepted me by grace. Prior to EC/EU, much of my college time was spent in the Student Union and my academic pattern gave credence to my lack of investment in education. But this was soon to change. I felt a tug to experience college life away from home. Prior to this time, I was still living with my parents and was a step away from college life on campus.
When I came to Evangel, I still had an undecided major and explored classes which were of interest. I cultivated friendships, attended chapel, and would spend time privately searching out my faith in that small chapel located in one of the old army barracks. I spent many valuable hours in conversation with dorm mates and other peers in which I found I was not alone in my questioning and searching. This was a comfort to me. I finally had a place to vent my uncertainties and be heard as well as understood. This was transforming for me and I soon began to care about what I was studying and where I was going. I loved my psychology and sociology classes. The faculty was supportive, and the social network I built was fun to be with and helped me develop and grow personally and spiritually. I began to realize that there was a direction or calling in my life and I was no longer adrift in the sea of academic unknowing. I had come to hear and accept my calling in life, and it was to be of service to those who were suffering emotionally and mentally. I was called to take Christ with me into a world of “hurt” – a world that was all around and impossible not to recognize.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Evangel reinforced my awareness that my “ground of being” included faith and being of service to others. This meant I had to trust that Christ was walking with me and aiding my ministry even in the most difficult and painful of situations. This faith that I was not alone provided me with the courage and strength to stand by many bedsides where the person was suffering, where the family was devastated, where the patient could be dying; to answer calls that led me to the ER unit and to go where my being called to the situation was never for good news! Because of faith, I would walk into these situations having trepidation as well as a humility of heart – knowing that I shared with that person a humanity that, in the end, could be spoken and understood by many on this journey we
call life. Evangel was one more step in a series of steps that pointed me toward a path I must take. It has been my calling ever since.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Dear prospective career person,
I would challenge you to be you. Be authentic and real. Don’t think too highly of yourself. On the other hand, don’t think too lowly of yourself either. Understand humility as it interfaces with confidence. Don’t seek so much to be understood as to understand. Read the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and incorporate its meaning into your daily walk. Bring with you a peace that encompasses your life, living, and mission. Never forget that we are sojourners with a humanity that knows suffering as well as celebration. Practice your faith daily in compassion and caring for all of God’s creation. And keep yourself spiritually attuned so that your well does not run dry or your path be obstructed by thorns.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
If, as an employer, I was seeking to employ a graduate of Evangel University, I would want to see that the applicant shows evidence of the fruits of the Spirit in the interview. I would hope that the prospective employee could demonstrate a spirit of acceptance, tolerance, and compassion for others. From my experience at Evangel, I would anticipate that a spiritual presence would somehow be evident and that caring would be front and center for that person. This could be demonstrated by the showing of respect for others, sensitivity to varying political climates and agendas, appreciation for different races and cultures, a general attitude of nondiscrimination, and a motivation to be part of a team.
By the time the candidate gets to the point of an interview, the interviewers have already decided he/she has the basic knowledge necessary for whatever the position would require of them. Now they would be evaluating whether or not the applicant was someone they could work well with given the situation and the role for that position. I would encourage the prospective employee to be mindful of the fruits of the Spirit and try to practice them in the interview, workplace, and all other avenues of life.