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Campus memorial service for Cynthia Shaw set for Thursday

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | April 26, 2016

Cynthia Shaw, who served Emory in several capacities before her death in February, will be remembered at a campus memorial service on Thursday, April 28, at 11:30 a.m. in Cannon Chapel.

“During her 35 years of employment at Emory — first in Campus Life and later in the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life — Cynthia ennobled and enriched all of us by her warm and generous spirit,” says the Rev. Bridgette Young Ross, dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life.

“She was also my friend,” Young Ross says. “In the 16 years that I knew her, Cynthia was my ultimate encourager. At first I thought it was just what she did for me, but I quickly realized her talent for challenging and encouraging people to be and do their best was something she shared with everyone.”

Shaw, 68, of Avondale Estate, Georgia, died unexpectedly in her sleep on Feb. 21. Following Thursday's service of remembrance, a light reception will be held in Brooks Common.

At the time of her death, Shaw served as director of Emory’s Journeys Program in the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. The inter-religious program gives members of the Emory community the opportunity to cultivate understanding and relationships within communities around the world through immersive outings intended to examine root causes of conflict and struggle.

The Journeys program has taken Emory faculty, students and staff members to visit both international and domestic destinations for experience, learning and service. In recent years, Shaw helped lead a groundbreaking 10-day trip to Cuba and a trip to the Mississippi Delta to help with a Habitat for Humanity project in Leland, Mississippi.

It was her interest in service learning that led Shaw to first lead a trip with several Emory students to South Africa in 1997 — followed by a post-hurricane trip to Honduras in 1999 — as part of the Journeys of Reconciliation Program.

In an earlier interview with Emory Report, Shaw reflected upon what those trips meant to her: "These 'journeys' often help students put into focus what they might want to do with their lives," she said then.

"Many of the students who apply to go on these trips are already predisposed to service, and the trips help sharpen that service orientation,” she said. “They come back changed. They are less self-indulgent. They think about what's going on the world beyond themselves. To me, that's what the college experience is supposed to do — help students come to some conclusions about their lives."

Prior to joining the Journeys Program, Shaw served as assistant dean of Campus Life and director of the Office of Student Leadership and Service. She also served as director of student development for Campus Life, was a former campus chair of Emory’s King Week committee, and supervised the office of Volunteer Emory.

As a longtime student adviser, Shaw touched the lives of many students. She served as co-director of the FAME (Freshman Advising and Mentoring at Emory) Program, an academic advising program for first-year students, and is credited for developing the Sophomore Season Seminars program, voluntary workshops held to help second-year students select their majors.