Pioneer Stories: Jen Day Shaw
“I met lifelong friends, learned a lot about myself and others, started honing leadership skills, and got a world-class education in a friendly, supportive environment full of opportunities. I loved my Transylvania experience.”
Jen Day Shaw found that her Transylvania activities outside of the classroom, which emphasized leadership and relationship building, proved to be every bit as valuable in her career aspirations as her political science major and history minor. She is assistant vice president/dean of students for student affairs at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
While at Transylvania, Shaw was a resident assistant, a member of the Student Government Association, and vice president of her Delta Delta Delta sorority pledge class. Former sociology professor Richard Thompson, who was interim dean of students for a decade, was her mentor and inspired her to pursue student life as a career calling. “The role model that Dean Thompson set made me determine that I wanted to be a dean of students,” she says.
At Florida, the state’s flagship university, Shaw works on a campus with more than 50,000 students and 950 student organizations. Her responsibilities range from new student programs to academic integrity, disability resources, student conduct, and a 24-hour crisis/emergency system. Alcohol abuse, sexual assault, and illegal drugs are among the troublesome issues she is trained to deal with.
Shaw finds her greatest professional fulfillment in solving problems and seeing students make better choices. “You get to support people when they’re in trouble and have a positive influence on their lives,” she says. “I show them their options and how to use our resources, and then help them get back on the path to success. That’s what originally drew me to this field.”