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UC Alumnus Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017

UC College of Arts & Sciences alumnus Mario Jovan Shaw named to Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017.

Date: 2/20/2017
By: Julie Campbell
Headshot of Mario Jovan Shaw

Mario Jovan Shaw, a champion of diversity in education, graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication and Africana studies from University of Cincinnati's College of Arts and Sciences in 2012. Shaw was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 for social entrepreneurship due to the success of the education-focused nonprofit he co-founded, Profound Gentlemen.

The Charlotte, NC-based organization seeks to build a pipeline of male educators of color who provide a profound impact on boys of color through social-emotional learning. Profound Gentlemen serves six regional communities, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington D.C. and Memphis, and represents 26 states.

Shaw’s commitment to education has deep roots. He was receiving real world teaching experience long before he received his college degree. As a high school student, he spent much of his time interning as a teacher as part of his selected teaching profession major. After enrolling at UC, his passion for education intersected with Communication and Africana Studies.

“My classes on black male development with Paul E. Abercrumbie got me excited about education again,” said Shaw. “He helped me to see why black male teachers are so important.”

Shaw’s passion for teaching led him to become the first black male from the university accepted into Teach For America. He began teaching 7th grade students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, where he liked to talk with black male students about their unique perspective. An after school group called the brotherhood led the boys through discussions about the book Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper, which covered issues relevant to young black men. This interaction led to talks about the lack of black male teachers and the birth of a new nonprofit, Profound Gentleman.

“The Charlotte Observer ran a story about me and the brotherhood, and I knew I could bring attention to an important issue,” said Shaw. “My conversations with black male students showed me how important having people of color in the classroom is for them.”

Shaw was also shaped by his experience as president of the United Black Student Association and a member of the Collegiate 100, a group promoting the intellectual development of the African-American community, at UC.

“Being able to work with black male leaders in the Collegiate 100 taught me how to utilize my leadership abilities in improving the community for the next generation,” said Shaw.

As for UC’s campus culture as a whole, Shaw feels that the university is making an effort to make black students feel more welcome and to promote black success. These goals are being addressed through measures like investment in black associations on campus, like the African-American Cultural & Resource Center, and the introduction of diversity and inclusion statements on applications for new faculty.

“When I talk with other alumni, we feel proud to come from the University of Cincinnati,” said Shaw. “Other black students at predominantly white institutions do not get the opportunities we had, and it is good to see that the actions coming from the university have been positive.”

Shaw continues to encourage black males to pursue careers in education by fostering support for students and providing mentorship programs. He has already seen that by having a support system in place, he is able to help people of color remain in the teaching profession. In 2017, he hopes to have a strong presence for Profound Gentlemen in Houston, along with other regional communities, while providing additional community services like combating food deserts.