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Senior Balances Family, Football, School and Work

Precision Printing group photo
Accent Fall 2017

The course of a typical college semester is filled with completing assignments, studying for tests, and developing and maintaining relationships. For many students, finding the right balance among all these activities is a challenge. Senior Eric Shaw (’17), a graphic design major at MNU, credits the support he receives both at home and at school for helping him handle it all.

“My wife and I have been married for three years now,” Eric says. “We met our sophomore year of high school and she’s just been there through everything. I’m incredibly blessed.”

A 2015 transfer from Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota, Eric made the move with his wife and newborn son, Eric Jr. Although he had a football scholarship, Eric had to find work to support his family and did so in the electronics department at Walmart. Eric noticed that MNU was special right away. He knew he had chosen a place where people would be willing to walk alongside him as he balanced family, work and school.

“Everything feels like a family at MNU,” Eric says. “The professors aren’t just putting a grade in the gradebook every week. They actually want to get to know each and every student.” Eric says Head Football Coach Brian Willmer has made a major impact on him.

“Coach Willmer says that football is great, but he wants us to think about life after football,” Eric says, “He wants us to become men that will lead from the front.” Eric credits Coach Willmer for being very understanding and willing to work with him to meet his other obligations.

“Communication is key,” Eric said. “If I’m going to be late getting to practice from work, I just let him know and he understands. There’s no way I could make it all work without Coach Willmer.” Eric also credits Graphic Design Professor Brian Merriman as an important figure in his education.

“He’s been really influential by showing us some of his own work from the past and teaching us [professional] graphic design skills before we get out in the real
world,” Eric says.

It was Professor Merriman who told him about an opportunity at Precision Printing, a local company owned by MNU alumnus Brian Diddle (’79).

“One day in class, Professor Merriman came up to me and was like, ‘How would you feel about leaving Walmart?’” Eric said. “And I was like, ‘I would love to!”

Two weeks later Eric had an interview. Brian says that Professor Merriman spoke so highly of Eric that even before the two met, Brian thought Eric was going to
be a good fit. A meeting confirmed it.

“As soon as Eric and I met, I sensed he had a great working personality,” Brian says. “I knew he would fit in great with the
Precision family.”

After 35 years of operation, Brian has learned what works best for his company. He emphasizes the importance of building a strong rapport with clients in order to stand out in the market.

“Our goal is to be the most responsive, relational and resourceful print provider to our clients,” Brian says. “A key element over the years has been staffing—keeping just the right amount of people, not too few or too many. At Precision Printing, we have multiple people that can fill multiple positions.”

Eric began working part time at Precision Printing and continued through the remainder of the spring 2017 semester. At the conclusion of the semester, the position turned into a full-time internship. Some might have found that such a fastpaced environment and looming deadlines would have added even more stress to a full schedule, but Brian says Eric seems to thrive.

“He proved in the first week he was the right choice for the job,” Brian recalls. “We spent a lot of time together, so to have somebody that blends right into the Precision family like Eric has is a real plus.”

Looking ahead to graduation in December, Eric says that he continues to place a heavy emphasis on the needs of his family.

“My wife has thought about going to school herself,” Eric says. “I ultimately want to support my family. That’s the main goal for me. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

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