By Rachel Morford, news correspondent
Ryan Shaw passed away suddenly on May 9 two weeks shy of his 19th birthday, after contracting bacterial meningitis. He was 18.
Shaw was born on May 29, 1997, and grew up in Wakefield and Cape Cod. At the time of his death, Shaw had just finished his freshman year at Northeastern, where he intended to earn a major in finance. In 2015, he graduated from St. John’s Preparatory High School in Danvers.
Friends of Shaw remembered him for his charismatic personality and multifaceted achievements.
“He was literally the funniest kid you could ever meet […] kind of shy at first, but once you got to know him, he could make you laugh by looking at you,” said Justine Wilk, a sophomore business major.
Wilk, who was in a relationship with Shaw, recounted Shaw’s distinct capability with people.
“Around him, I was always very happy,” she said. “He somehow had this way of making anything that was wrong feel okay.”
Not only was Shaw charismatic, he was also kind, Wilk said.
“He was not self-centered at all,” she said. “He would do anything for anyone […] he was so humble.”
Other friends of Shaw similarly praised him for his genial personality, disposition and humility.
“Ryan was just a person everyone wanted to be around. Somebody you’d want as your friend, at your side,” said Brendan Slattery, sophomore business major. Slattery first met Shaw at orientation for NUin, and they quickly became friends while rooming together in Dublin in their first semester.
Despite the amount of time they shared together, Slattery was always finding out new things about Shaw.
“I saw him probably every single day of freshman year, and yet there was always a new story or talent he was sharing with us,” he said. One time, I was looking through his Instagram for something, and I found a picture of him standing next to this beautiful painting – it took me a second before I realized he had painted it – it’s hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts. Ryan never mentioned it until I brought it up…of course he played it off like it wasn’t a big deal, or anything. He would continue to surprise you.”
Shaw was awarded a gold medal from the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Award for his painting when he was a senior in high school.
While gifted artistically, Shaw was equally industrious in the field of his intended major. He won an entrepreneurship competition for a company he founded when he was 16 years old, according to Slattery.
“He wanted to make ‘creative decisions for companies’ and to be the face of the company […] we would have lengthy conversations about that,” he said.
Shaw was an ambitious person, according to finance program peer and sophomore Louis Mollet.
“I quickly realized how driven he was and saw how he would be able to reach his great potential with his brilliant and creative mind,” said Mollet.
Shaw is remembered as loving and close to his family. He is survived by his parents, Scott and Joanne (Warchol) Shaw; his brother Connor and sister Madison; his maternal grandmother Barbara Warchol; and many uncles, aunts and cousins.
The Shaw family is establishing a scholarship fund in his name. His funeral was held on May 16.
Ryan Shaw’s impact will remain with those who were close to him.
“He lived in the moment, and always had a smile,” said Slattery. I’ll always remember his positivity, and how infectious it was.”
Grief counseling is available to students through Northeastern’s University Health Care Services office.
Photo courtesy LinkedIn