Ann Shaw, the wife of Southern Adventist University President Ken Shaw, distributed over 4,000 cookies, including chocolate chip, vegan snickerdoodle and gluten-free oatmeal cookies during the first month of school.
Cookies were delivered throughout SmartStart and Mental Health Week.
When questioned about how she organized the cookie distribution project, Shaw said she asked several people if they knew of someone who shared her passion for connecting with students. Counseling Services Coordinator Tiffany Bartell was one of the people mentioned.
Bartell, who subsequently helped with the project, said students were surprised and delighted when they received the unexpected homemade cookies from the president’s wife.
“Mrs. Shaw was a delight to work with,” Bartell said. “And it was so amazing to see how many students who came to the table had already met her [and] that she remembered their names.”
Bartell said the gesture was a wonderful way to start the new school year as well as the couple’s time at Southern.
“Their heart for students and desire to connect personally with the campus has been apparent since their arrival,” Bartell said of the Shaws. “We are so happy they are here.”
In addition to students, Shaw also distributed cookies to employees, and she believes it is something God wants her to do.
“Faculty and staff pour themselves out into the students,” she said. “And when you pour out for a long time, and nothing gets poured back in, then you become empty.”
When she arrived on campus, Shaw considered it her mission to spread cheer. She said God has been kind and merciful to her, and she wants to show that kindness to others. She also believes being a part of the student body is important.
“You get to talk to people; you get to know their story,” she said during an interview with the Southern Accent, which took place at the Bietz Center for Student Life.
“Like PJ right there,” she added, pointing out the window to a student. “Everyone has a story to tell.”
Shaw said she started her baking ministry when she and her husband were at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, where they served for seven years before coming to Southern. During the couple’s first year at the university, she baked treats for convocation and continued to do so until their departure.
Professionally, Shaw worked as a nurse for over 30 years and taught music for more than two decades. For the past 12 years, she has focused on interior design. And at Southwestern, she was involved with plant services, helping the university to remodel buildings from the ground up, she said. No longer a nurse, everywhere she goes she has to create a job for herself, and that has been her situation lately.
“I have to reinvent myself again,” she said. “And I pray a lot about it.”
While distributing the more than 4,000 cookies at Southern, Shaw said, she made sure they were distributed equally to all grade levels. She included sophomores and juniors because she said she believes freshmen and seniors tend to receive the most attention on college campuses.
“Seniors get a lot of things because they’re leaving,” she said. “And freshmen get pulled into [a lot of things].”
According to Shaw, when she makes her cookies, she puts them in tubs and freezes them. She makes so many that she usually doesn’t have enough freezer space to keep them. So, she asks friends to help store them in their freezers.
Once she’s ready to bag the cookies, Shaw said she calls more friends to help. Those who assisted with the most recent batch included Judy Glass, a professor in the School of Music, President Shaw and individuals from nursing and other schools and departments.
Aside from normal dairy cookies, Shaw said she makes vegan and gluten-free options because she doesn’t want anyone feeling left out.
In the future, she hopes to join her husband for “Pop Up with the Prez,” a new initiative that would allow her to connect with more students. Shaw said she also wants to distribute loaves of bread on campus, most likely during Vespers or any time anyone needs a “pick-me up”.