Alex King, Staff Writer
Rebecca Shaw’s story began in 2012 when she began applying for college. She had her mind set on getting far away from the small town of Indian Trail that she has lived in her whole life.
“I applied to Wingate because it was right down the road and my brother went there but I had no intention of going there,” Shaw stated. “My dream school was Anderson.”
Shaw found out about a few colleges before finding out that she had been accepted to Wingate but not Anderson, but she was still determined to move away from Union County. In January of 2012, her perspective changed.
“We found out my sister was pregnant in early January and we were all very excited. It was my first nephew.. Then on January 20th my dad passed away,” Shaw remembered. “That was horrible and I realized what was really important, and that was family.“
Due to these life events, Shaw decided being right down the road was for the better.
“Once I had decided on Wingate, I tried to get really involved right away,” said Shaw. “I joined the Facebook page, I added everyone as a friend. I was so excited. Honestly, probably too excited.”
When she moved in, it was a different story. “When I actually got here, I stayed in my room most days, I wasn’t really that involved until the spring. I was really worried I was just going to drop out or end up transferring.”
Shaw said she looked to transfer to Appalachian State but ended up staying at Wingate.
“When I decided to stay at Wingate, that’s when I really started to get involved. I applied to be an Orientation Leader, the position we call Orientation Coordinator now.” Shaw explained that she was the only freshman girl to be accepted for the position.
“I immediately fell in love with being an Orientation Leader. It gave me such a sense of family and I talked with some of the Orientation Leaders and they said, ‘I would do this for the rest of my life if I could’ and that’s when I realized that I would totally want to do that, too.”
Shaw started looking into working more with involvement and orientation on Wingate’s campus and found that working on a college campus with students was something she would really enjoy.
“Once I got involved with Orientation, so many doors opened up. I worked pretty much anywhere you could imagine.” Shaw said working at all of these places around campus helped show her that marketing was not what she really wanted to do with her life.
Shaw looked back and realized the mentors she had played a huge role in finding that higher education is something she would like to pursue. “My mentors really helped me see that I can make an impact in students’ lives.”
“I did some research and found that I wanted to go to school for my Masters in Higher Education. I talked with my boss and she helped me figure out what schools had good programs and I found a few schools to apply to.” Shaw had a similar experience while applying for graduate schools that she had when she applied to college in 2012.
“I had my heart set on University of Rochester but they were the last school I heard back from,” said Shaw. “I heard back from my two other backup schools, in which i didn’t get into. I felt awful.”
A few weeks after her second rejection letter, she got an email from the University of Rochester. “I got an email from them and it said that I was going to have to wait even longer to hear back and I thought ‘you have got to be kidding me, I have to wait even longer’ and I was physically sick to my stomach, that’s how bad it was.”
The next day, Shaw received another email. This time it was much different. “I got the email and I didn’t want to open it, like, I was so nervous I almost just deleted it. I got enough courage to open it and I’m glad I did because I had been accepted into their Masters of Higher Education program.”
From there, the journey has only gotten better. “Once I was accepted into the program, I got started applying for assistantships and I’ve already accepted an offer to be basically what we would call an RD or residence director.”
Shaw looked back at her time at Wingate and realized that everything worked accordingly, even when she thought it wouldn’t.
Edited by: Brea Childs