Beth Shaw ’09 graduated Loyola Marymount University in May with two major accomplishments: a degree in political science and more than 450 hours of community service. Shaw was the recipient of the Arete Award sponsored by the Marymount Institute that honors graduating seniors for their commitment to service and justice through off-campus volunteer service.
After taking Kristin Heyer’s course “Christian Ethics and HIV/AIDS,” which required volunteer service as a part of its course work, Shaw began volunteering at Bienestar, an organization that helps Latinos who are infected with HIV and AIDS.
“AIDS has a stigma that the person chose a path to get the disease,” Shaw said. “But they are deserving and in need of help from society, instead of having a stigma attached to them.”
Last August, Shaw attended the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City on a Strauss Scholarship. There she learned how much greater the risk for contracting HIV is for women due to unbalanced gender roles and societal failures in Mexico. Upon returning home, Shaw started a female empowerment group for high school age Latinas in East Los Angeles.
“Our role was less about educating these women as much as it was simply listening to them; we served to give them a voice. When this occurred, we found that we were inadvertently combating HIV.”
Shaw will continue to serve HIV and AIDS patients in Tanzania through the Jesuits Volunteer International program for two years.
She added, “This is what I’ll be pursuing — a life of service. Whatever I do will be in light of helping others and continuing to grow myself.”