Shaw Wagener ’81 reflects on the value of personal connections for Wagener Family Global Scholars
Shaw Wagener ’81 remembers being introduced to the first cohort of Wagener Family Global Scholars. Early in the fall semester, five members from the Class of 2019 met him on campus; many of them shy and reserved—as first-year students are apt to be. Four years later—after brunches in Claremont Village and dinners with Wagener, his wife, Debbie, and well-traveled CMC alumni at their Pasadena home—those same students were walking across the graduation stage with a different kind of verve and confidence.
“I could see how they grew,” Wagener said, beaming. “Now, I played a very small part in that, but the feeling was different. I knew them. Knew what they had studied, knew what they had done at CMC, knew where they were going next. All of that rolled into this shared experience that we could all look back on and feel a part of.”
It was Wagener’s biggest request when he decided to think about his giving differently at CMC: “I wanted to get to know students more.” Wagener, a portfolio manager at Capital Group, came to CMC for the government and political science emphasis, and “lucked out” to be part of the first four-year group of international relations majors. It defined his life’s interests, he said, with travel throughout Europe and Asia (he lived in Singapore) at the forefront.
The scholars program provides direct financial support for students who qualify for need-based aid to go abroad in the spring semester of their sophomore year to non-English speaking countries. Wagener has since watched some of those timid first-years become Fulbright grant all-stars and commit to even more time learning about cultures outside of their own.
As the scholar program continues to grow in years, his hope is that all of its graduates will come back to campus one day for a reunion—creating new friendships and personal connections centered on a love for global awareness and understanding. “It seems ironic that, today, we seem more connected by technology than ever, but in general people seem to have less empathy for each other globally,” said Wagener, who gave his Class of 2019 scholars a small globe as a token of accomplishment. “I really believe to improve that, students need to go abroad and experience different cultures directly.”
“Students need to go abroad and experience different cultures directly.”