by Laura Tenpenny
“I was a bit confused until I discovered the card signed by Coach Fulmer, and then I realized that someone must have reached out to UT,” said Charles Shaw (BS ChE ’80). His daughter contacted his old chemical engineering department on a quest to lighten her father’s spirits as he went through treatment for cancer. In a feat of administrative coordination and love, the department worked with other units around campus to send Shaw care packages and cards from the university and from his fellow UT chemical engineering alumni.
“It boosted my pride in my university that the folks there care enough about an old alumnus and die-hard Vol fan to take time from their busy jobs to make my day a little brighter,” Shaw said of this show of support.
As a wide-eyed student, he was similarly overawed by the university. “Coming from a small town like I did, UT exposed me to so many new ideas and people and opened up a world of opportunity for me,” Shaw recalled.
Part of that opportunity included participation in the engineering co-op program, through which he was able to work for TVA.
“UT gave me my career. My experience at UT provided the educational background and the vocational awareness through my co-op experience to prepare me for the successful engineering career I have enjoyed over the past 38 years,” Shaw said.
Since leaving UT, Shaw has worked for TVA, Porex Technologies, and Osmose, with experience in plant design, product design, operations management, and more. Of most importance to him, however, is his family, which includes his wife, Lynne, and his daughters, Honey and Maggie.
People are also what Shaw considers most important when he reflects on his time at UT, and especially his recent experience as an alumnus.
I think the people make UT special. While the gesture of reaching out to me during a tough time may seem insignificant to some, I believe it is part of the make-up of everyone who has ever been associated with the Volunteer family. I love the University of Tennessee and am proud to be part of the Vol nation and believe it is our duty to help each other. I know I certainly appreciate the effort that has been shown on my behalf.”
Shaw’s cancer is responding well to treatment, and he wants his Vol family to know that he is doing well. He expressed his gratitude for all involved in the kindness he received:
“Thank you for your interest in me and my situation. I am grateful for the life that my time at UT prepared me for and I just want to continue to pay it forward to help others and exhibit that Big Orange spirit while I do it!”