Stefanie Shute inspires change at Empathy Factory
By Janessa Mayo, Mount Public Relations student
Mount alumna Stefanie Shute, BA ’11, is president of an organization with an exceptional mandate – the Empathy Factory. As the mother of two teenage girls (and also manager of systems and processes at Nova Scotia Community College), Shute feels it’s important to teach good morals and values, including hard work and determination. She also recognizes the importance of education and says her time at the Mount inspired her to embrace different perspectives in her career and life.
Shute’s passion for exploring empathy began in 2010. Following the devastation that occurred in Haiti, Shute’s oldest daughter asked her to text in a donation. However, the 12-year-old was saddened when she was unable to see what her contribution accomplished. With the help of her husband, Shute decided to conduct an experiment to encourage local acts of kindness. Each week, for 10 weeks, their two daughters would receive $10 with the challenge to give the money away. Shute then instructed the girls to report back on why they gave their money, and how it made them feel. “My youngest—the more competitive one—figured she would save her $10 until she reached $100 and make a bigger difference,” Shute says.
Spreading empathy across Nova Scotia and beyond
Shute is eager to further expand the Empathy Factory: “Our goal is to one day be able to go across Canada, but for now we will aim to reach across Nova Scotia,” she says. The Empathy Factory began taking bigger steps toward the future in March 2014 when they hired their first employee. Beginning early 2015, Shute and her team plan to launch their new website to further educate about the importance of empathy.
Discovering empathy in the Mount community
a community where age didn’t seem to matter. Shute reflects on her time at the Mount as an encouraging experience. “I felt like I was part of a family,” she says. Not only did she receive guidance and acceptance from her peers, Shute also found it easy to connect with her professors. She appreciated their willingness and respect, and their accessibility via phone and e-mail when she had questions or conflicts. She says, “The teachers understood that I had work commitments and a family, and were extremely accommodating of that. It was like we worked together.”