Tnesha Shaw, daughter of Faye and Bruce Shaw and graduate student at Fayetteville State University, had her share of struggles in the days when she was a student at Hoke County High School.
Since then, she’s achieved academic success and earned accolades for her community involvement. Now, she hopes teenagers facing the same struggles she did can find inspiration to seek future success.
“I want students to know that it’s ok to be different and it’s not about how you start but how you finish,” Shaw said in an email.
Shaw was a C student when she was in high school, she said. Even so, she continued working and went on to college at FSU. She became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college when she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2018.
Shaw said she wants to encourage young adults to continue to college, even if they struggled academically in high school.
“I am a first generation college graduate and I encourage others to attend college even if it’s not their family norm,” she said.
While studying at FSU, Shaw has been on the Chancellor’s List every year since 2017 for earning the highest academic achievement. She has earned a grade point average (GPA) of between 3.75 and 4.0 each semester.
In 2018, Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina sponsored Shaw to attend a study tour in Beijing and Shanghai, China. She studied Mandarin, the culture, the economy, and politics at Tongji University and Beijing Foreign Studies University.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, she returned to the classroom to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sociology and a Military Behavioral Health Certificate.
Outside of her academic work, she has also been a leader in the FSU Sociology Club, African Student Association and in AUTOS, a commuter student organization. She submitted and obtained the first FSU Impact Initiative Grant to promote campus and community activism and self-awareness, according to a press release from FSU.
Shaw served as NAACP FSU Collegiate President. During her time in that role, the campus organization held its first annual Justice Week. Shaw invited Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin to discuss his book, “How To Stop For A Cop,” and held a panel with other law enforcement leaders from the area.
While serving as NAACP FSU collegiate president, Shaw wrote a grant proposal for the NAACP FSU chapter to receive $5,000 to assist with school supplies. She said she encouraged young African-American students to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) “to become culturally aware and to learn their heritage.”
Shaw became a member and delegate of the NCCIIE Model United Nations Club, according to an FSU press release. She invited the United States Department of State Diplomat in Residence, Kathryn Crokart, to host an information session. She organized the Global Careers for All Majors to provide students with information on how to obtain fellowships, internships and/or a career within the Department of State.
Among her many other contributions, Shaw participated with the Feds Feeds Families National Campaign as the Agency Champion for USDA; and volunteered in numerous activities such as the National Night Out Community-Building Campaign, the Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief and the Homeless and Hunger Stand Down.
This spring, Shaw was named FSU’s “Chancellor for a Day.” Furthermore, Shaw received recognition last November for outstanding leadership and service from North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities committed to community engagement. She was one of 21 students across the state to receive the 2019 award.
In her personal life, she’s the mother of a teenage son. Becoming a mother also gave her inspiration, Shaw said.
“Having him inspired me to be better and to live a life of purpose,” she said.
Now on the other side of her academic journey that started at Hoke High, Shaw said she wants young people – especially other first-generation college students – to connect with those who are working to make a positive impact in the world. They can go far, Shaw said.
“The bigger picture is to encourage students who would be first generation college students to further their education. I want these young adults to know that they can go past the moon if they connect with positive people who are making a positive impact on our society. Someone set the expectation for me. I’d like to pay it forward and this is my start,” she said.