October 25, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Mara Shaw Named College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumna at VSU

Valdosta State University recently honored Mara Shaw with the 2022 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumna Award. She is pictured with Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU.

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently honored Mara Shaw with the 2022 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumna Award.

“This honor inspires me to always be mindful of the opportunity I have to share how my education and experience led to an amazing life of public service across our great state,” she said.

Shaw lives in Bishop, Georgia, and works with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. Through her role as associate director of governmental training, education, and development, she manages leadership development and financial management training programs for more than 5,000 local and state government officials annually.

Shaw began her career in public service as a federal agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. If not for an internship with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which she completed as an undergraduate student at VSU, she said that professional opportunity would not have been possible. After her NCIS experience, she went on to work in various positions in local and state government, including 17 years with the City of Valdosta where she was an integral part of the original success of Valdosta’s downtown redevelopment.

When not working to promote excellence in government, Shaw enjoys spending time with her family and friends and sharing beautiful music as a member of her church choir and Athens Master Chorale. She serves as chairwoman of the State Housing Trust Fund Commission for the Homeless and vice chairwoman of the Habitat for Humanity Georgia Board of Directors.

“My greatest accomplishment in life is my daughter, Dr. Peggy Peterson,” she shared. “She just completed her Doctor of Physical Therapy and is currently in her residency in women’s health. She obtained her undergraduate degree in athletic training from Valdosta State and that experience set her on a path to great success with her education and career.”

Shaw earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1982.

Q: What are some highlights from your Valdosta State experience?

A: From being the founding president of the Zeta Tau Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma to my undergraduate internship at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, my experience at Valdosta State truly changed my life for greater opportunities in my personal and professional life. I truly made lifelong friends and connections through my time at Valdosta State.

Q: What advice do you have for current Valdosta State students? What do you wish someone had told you when you were in college?

A: Savor every moment of your educational experience at Valdosta State. Never underestimate the power of relationships you will forge there and never forget the priceless opportunity you have been given to further your education at Valdosta State. Use that experience as a critical moment in time to launch you to success.

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