Former CNN anchor, alum shares wisdom

Hoda Fakhari, Bernard Shaw, and Winifred Obanor

Hoda Fakhari (left), junior in English and biochemistry; Bernard Shaw, retired CNN anchor and UIC alumnus; and Winifred Obanor, senior in English and public health. Fakhari and Obanor received the Bernard Shaw Prize and the Bernard Shaw Scholarship, respectively. (Photo: Renee Gooch)

Former CNN anchor and UIC alumnus Bernard Shaw delivered his trademark fair-minded wisdom and wit at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Scholarship and Award Recognition Luncheon.

“I come from our nation’s capital where cherry blossoms are spring’s kisses and where the atmosphere is so peaceful,” he joked. “Even the birds have their own special tweet.”

Shaw’s March 8 talk at Student Center East refrained from addressing national politics, but instead focused on the accomplishments and contributions of those in attendance — LAS donors, faculty and students.

He encouraged attendees to consider the immeasurable possibilities and impact of donors who dare to care.

“Too many times the blunt reality of hardship spits in the faces of some very talented students. Donors must never ever deter or suffocate a fired up and evolving mind,” he said.

“We do it because the quid pro quo is implicit. As you receive, so shall you give.”

For 25 years the Bernard Shaw Prize and, later, the Bernard Shaw Scholarships have provided need-based support to reward outstanding academic and civic achievement by qualified LAS undergraduates majoring in communication, English, history or political science.

“The opportunity to pursue a college degree isn’t just my joy, but the joy of my entire family,” said scholarship recipient Winifred Obanor, a senior dual-majoring in English and public health with a minor in psychology. “When I was first accepted into college my biggest fear was that I would have to give up this dream because I could not afford it.”

She told the audience that the scholarship provided her with personal growth and the “gift of time” to pursue individual and group research opportunities, lead student organizations, and complete a book project featuring short stories about health disparities.

“With these experiences, I’m better prepared for graduate school and a public health career,” said Obanor, an Honors College and LAS Student Advisory Board member.

Shaw also reflected on his own experience and challenges at UIC, where he had a full course load while working 50 hours a week, first as a wine cellar steward at the Conrad Hilton on Michigan Avenue, then as a rover at what became the nation’s first all-news radio station.

“One student would take his dreams to the water’s edge. Sometimes he peeked over his shoulder to see if anyone noticed him crying…crying out of frustration and hope. I was that student,” he explained.

“Whether at the Pier or here at the Circle, I tried to choke academic life out of every hour.”

He lamented that society overlooks the work of the college’s faculty, which he described as a “conclave of brilliance.”

“While thank you’s can never pay you, never say how deeply we admire, respect, and need you, we offer these emotions as currency of heart and mind,” he said. “What you do affects humankind for future generations.”

In closing, he delivered encouragement and advice to the students.

“Don’t hide your dreams in whispers. Your dream is not an embarrassment,” he said. “After years of journalism and life, I swear by this: Never fear the truth, but be afraid of missing it.”

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