Helping Others is a Way of Life
Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.
Featured this month: Pam Shannon
Education: Bachelor of Science Healthcare Management 1989
Profession: Executive Director of St. Aloysius and retired health professional
Growing up, Pam Shannon knew she wanted to help people. That desire led her into a nursing career. But soon administration came calling. Pam, like so many Union alumni, found a calling in helping others, not only in her career, but also in her volunteer work. Read her story:
“I loved nursing but I was also drawn to administration where I thought I might be able to have a broader impact. The expectation for management was an additional degree. That’s when I discovered Union,” said Pam.. “Union allowed me the flexibility to work fulltime in my job where I traveled extensively, and get my degree in health care administration.” She went on to earn a master’s degree from Xavier University, also in Cincinnati.
In 2018, Pam was contemplating a slower work pace when St. Aloysius, approached her about a consulting role to reorganize and hire a new executive director. Six months later, she was asked to take the job herself. St. Aloysius, referred to as “St. Al’s” in the community, is a former orphanage founded in 1832, as a result of the cholera outbreak that left large numbers of children throughout Cincinnati orphaned. The orphanage evolved in the 20th century, and began to focus by the 1980s on children impacted by abuse and neglect. St. Al’s has continued to adapt to needs of children and families with new evidence-based treatment strategies that helps children in our community overcome their challenges by providing the education, counseling, mental health care, and resources they need to heal and grow.
Q: What do you want people to know about community-based mental health?
A: We must get over the stigma of mental health challenges. We are all impacted. But there is hope. With therapy and coping skills children and adults can live happy and productive lives.
Q: What was your Union experience like?
A: My experience was great. The curriculum was rigorous and I received a theoretical education. My experience was taken into consideration and I had to demonstrate my knowledge. The semesters were concentrated and fast-paced and at the end of the semester I knew what I had to deliver. The small group settings were helpful and I received a great deal of attention from my professors, almost one-on-one.
Q: What has your UI&U degree meant to you professionally?
A: My Union degree set me on a 40-year career in health care.
Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?
A: My advice is to engage with the instructors. Open up about your challenges and look for their advice. The instructors wrote assessments of my work which gave me a wealth of information later as I worked on my master’s degree.
Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
A: Having the good sense to recognize when an opportunity has been given to me to take the opportunity.
Q: What is your passion away from work?
A: I love my family and being with my family. I have been a big sister for years. I also love to travel. Another passion is an annual medical mission to Belize.
Q. Much like Union’s mission to engage, enlighten, and empower you will soon make your ninth trip to Belize. What was the inspiration to use your time and talent to give back by going to Belize to help people?
A. I really did feel a calling to do something like a medical mission trip many years ago. I had the typical fears that most people feel about going to a developing country; should I spend the money, use my vacation time, will I be safe, and can I really help and make a difference? Well, the answer was it has always worked out perfectly each year for me to go. I have found very meaningful work to do each year with my mission team. The very best part is that I have made deep and lasting friendships with families I have come to know and love in Belize. Belizeans are wonderful, hardworking, fun-loving people. I have been very blessed to travel to Belize each year and serve in many capacities, but always, always, I return home with so much more in friendships and inspiration than I ever give in time or resources.
Union Institute & University is guided by its core mission to educate highly motivated adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.
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