How My Life Became a College Course

When I walked onto the campus of the University of Memphis as a freshman and mother of a two year old in 1997, the last thing I ever imagined was that I would one day be a professor on that same campus. When I chose business as my degree the next year, I never thought I would be a teacher of any kind.

And when I wrote a book about my life as a teen mother, I never imagined that it would be a textbook for a class I was ASKED to create. And that students who had lives very different from mine and some with similar experiences would learn so much from my life.

So how did that happen? How did a former teen mom with a business degree become a professor teaching a class about life…using her life story? MY LIFE STORY

Life Skills class flier

When I graduated from high school, I earned the Emerging Leaders scholarship. I moved to Memphis and was excited to enter my freshman year at the University of Memphis. As a young mother, I balanced my school work, leadership roles in campus activities, and the toughest job of all…motherhood (single motherhood).

But I did it. In 2001 I graduated magna cum laude and was named Miss University of Memphis for my grade point average, campus leadership and community involvement. Soon after, I started my marketing career with the Memphis Grizzlies and later worked for ServiceMaster and FedEx.

While I was at FedEx, I wrote my memoir describing just how I did it. I included my experiences at the University of Memphis and how I balanced my time and my complicated life as a single mother.  I began getting asked to speak at school, colleges, community events and other places sharing my story.

And I found my calling. My purpose. The reason I had been through so much and worked so hard.

CNN HLN asked to interview me and so  did the 700 Club and nearly every local news outlet, but nothing felt better than giving a speech and talking to people afterwards letting me know that I had helped them. I decided at that point that I wanted to dedicate my career and my life to helping and encouraging others and that I would have to eventually leave the job at FedEx that I loved.

For the work that I was doing in the community and with my business, I was honored by the Fogelman College of Business and Economics as the Outstanding Young Alumna. To help with my transition out of my corporate job and to help me have some guaranteed income when I left, I applied for a position as an adjunct professor.  Receiving the Outstanding Young Alumna award had given me exposure to key decision makers including the amazing and innovative Dean of the college, Dr. Rajiv Grover, and I was offered the position.

After three semesters of teaching a marketing course at a satellite campus, I was asked to create my very own course and teach on the main campus. Dean Grover recognized my ability to reach students and respected my knowledge and experience of managing LIFE during and after college.

I was paired with a tenured professor who helped with the approval process. I even heard that some of the people on the board who reviewed the course curriculum laughed and couldn’t believe the course was being presented for approval. I was asked to add other books and increase the academic rigor of the course, and I resisted saying that I didn’t want to teach the course if I couldn’t do it the way I wanted to teach it. The way I felt would be most effective to meet the objectives of the course.

After nearly a year, the course was approved for a pilot. I was given the green light to do it the way I felt was best. However, I was tasked with getting students, and if I didn’t get enough then the pilot would not go forward. Nervous that I wouldn’t get students to sign up for a new, unheard of class, I put my marketing skills to work and got 15 amazing students my first semester. Now in my fourth semester, I don’t have to promote the class at all.

My reviews each semester are incredible, and there are always tears and gratitude throughout the semester and especially at the final presentations.

UofM class

As I stand before my class of amazingly diverse students (It’s so beautiful to see the race, gender, background, and age diversity I have each semester) for three hours once a week, I am full of gratitude myself. My students openly share. I watch them grow and evolve right before my eyes.

Here’s what some of my awesome students say about the class-

 

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=p3V3quETJYc

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=6pPxk0jyEdY

 

And their lives change and so does mine in my Life Skills: Personal Development and Change Management course. Textbook: Life After Birth- A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother by Summer Owens.

Want to teach? Start by learning and keep learning.

  1. Do what you know you need to do
  2. Work hard
  3. Live your best life
  4. Make yourself known
  5. Be open and honest
  6. Position yourself for opportunities…and they WILL come

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Business/Entrepreneurship, Education, life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Me in Joplin was No Accident and No Coincidence

As with every invitation I receive to speak, I am honored and excited. I love sharing my story because I have been so blessed to see audiences light up when I share it. And it feels amazing to see people line up to talk to me afterwards.

My trip to Joplin was no different, but in a big way it was.

The ASPIRE scholarship program for single mothers asked me to speak at their annual scholarship dinner. They chose my speech, The Power of the Struggle, and I was ready to deliver it to this group of amazing women who I knew that I could relate to so well.

 

SONY DSC

When I saw that the request was from Joplin, I remembered the devastating tornado that had destroyed the city a few years ago. I thought that would be a fitting tie-in to understanding the struggle and dealing with unexpected, life-altering situations.

SONY DSC

As I sat in the Memphis airport reviewing my speech before boarding, I decided to look up the tornado that hit Joplin. My jaw dropped when I saw that the date the storm hit was May 22, 2011.

SONY DSC

I opened my speech, “On May 22, 1979 I was born. On May 22, 1994, I got pregnant by someone I did not know and did not consent to have sex with. On May 22, 2011 this community experienced a storm that still impacts many of you today.

One of the single mothers had lost her fiance in the tornado while she was pregnant. There were countless other stories of tragedy and triumph, just like my story. Overcoming obstacles, surviving the storm, growing stronger in the struggle, and seeing the beauty after the devastation.

I am grateful to Bryan and Leticia Vowels for their love and compassion for others and for starting the ASPIRE scholarship which is changing lives for generations to come.

ASPIRE Joplin Founders

 

Posted in speaking, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer School- Class 6: Get Bold

For the last three weeks, I have held Summer School, a short series with tips to help us make the most of our summer “break”.

Wrapping up the series with Class 6, I want you to…

Get Bold: Build Your Confidence and Make It Happen. It’s time to stop hiding behind fear and excuses and take a step. Small or large, it’s time to move! On my last teleclass, I said, “Do it scared.” Don’t get that confused with do it foolishly or unprepared. But it does mean getting uncomfortable and making a move even when you are.

That’s why I’m so excited about my upcoming Confidence Class!

Summer Owens Confidence Class-Waitlist

Boldness takes confidence. Action takes confidence. Living your dreams takes confidence.

We all have different levels of confidence in different areas of our lives, and each area affects the others. How you feel about your looks affects your social confidence and even your confidence at work.

I lacked confidence in EVERY area, but I learned how to overcome my self-doubt and insecurities to pursue all of my dreams and succeed where many won’t even dare to try.

Join the waitlist for my Confidence Class to be the first to know when registration opens AND to get a discount and other sweet bonuses.

I already have testimonials from my 30 minute teleclass-  5 Things You Must Do To Make Your Dreams Reality, and that was just a taste of what I’m showing you in the Confidence Class.

Time to Get Bold.

Don’t know how? No problem. Just join me!

Posted in life | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer School- Class 5: Unhide and Go Seek

Three weeks ago, I started a short series with a few tips to help us make the most of our summer “break”. This summer, this Summer  will hold Summer School with a focus on using this season to keep moving forward.

The other day was Life check: Are you living your dreams or just living? Are you dwelling on what happened or what didn’t happen for you? Life is too short to just exist or to stay stuck on that messed up or unfair thing that’s holding you back. There are too many options and opportunities available to you.

Today is…

Unhide and Go Seek: Find Time and Get Money. Evaluate and eliminate your time wasters so that you can use that time to work on activities to get you ahead. I’m not a money chaser and don’t believe it is the key to happiness, but I do know that it is necessary and that you can get more of it to do more with it especially for others.

Summer Owens Confidence Class-Waitlist

If you’ve started The Purge, then you’re probably already seeing that you have more time and maybe even more money too. Keep looking at your life and evaluate where you can find more time. How much time do you spend watching TV or binge watching Netflix? Do you fall into the social media hole and find yourself scrolling and watching what’s going on in other people’s lives rather than making things happen in your own.

As you are looking at your life for more time, you’ll likely discover ways to make more dimes too. First, look at the money you can save. What can you cut out? Do you really need cable? Are you using that gym membership? Now, what can you do to make some money? Perhaps your purge also included stuff. The summer is a great time to have a yard sale or post items online to sell. It’s also a great time to explore your interests and see how you can turn them into profits.

Where can you find or create more time and money in your schedule and your life?

Posted in life | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer School- Class 4: Life Check

Two weeks ago, I started a short series with a few tips to help us make the most of our summer “break”. This summer, this Summer  will hold Summer School with a focus on using this season to keep moving forward.

I last suggested The Purge: Get rid of things, thoughts, and people who bring you down or hold you back.

Today is….

Life check: Are you living your dreams or just living? Are you dwelling on what happened or what didn’t happen for you? Life is too short to just exist or to stay stuck on that messed up or unfair thing that’s holding you back. There are too many options and opportunities available to you.

Plus, the better choices you make and the smarter actions you take now, the more and better options you have. As a mentor and life coach, I’m excited to help my clients realize this every day.

Summer Owens Confidence Class-Waitlist

We do what we have to do, but we also make choices to put us in the position to do what we want to do. What are your dreams and aspirations? How would you like to spend your days and nights? It truly is possible to do the work you love and live the life you want. It’s all a matter of choices. Daily, weekly, monthly choices. That lead to beautiful options for you.

How are you spending your summer to help you be able to do what you want to do instead of just what you have to do?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer School- Class 3: The Purge

Two weeks ago, I started a short series with a few tips to help us make the most of our summer “break”. This summer, this Summer  will hold Summer School with a focus on using this season to keep moving forward.

Last week, I focused on the Mid-year Reset: Getting your goals back on track.

Today is….

The Purge: Get rid of things, thoughts, and people who bring you down or hold you back. When you’re trying to catch up or get ahead, the last thing you need is anything weighing you down. Bad habits, self-doubt, or that negative friend…gotta go so that you can focus on yourself and your goals.

This may sound harsh, and it may be hard. But it’s necessary and gets easier the more you believe in yourself and your dreams. The more focused you are on achieving your goals, the less tolerance you have for people and things that waste your time or drain your energy.

Summer Owens Confidence Class-Waitlist

Although I don’t really like it when people say it, many people preface a conversation with me with, “I know you’re busy…”. It makes me question if I am always saying I’m busy or giving off a sign that maybe I’m too busy for people.

But it didn’t bother me for long.

They say, “Busy” but I what I hear is they know I don’t have time to waste.

I love people and live my life to help others, but I appreciate that people know that I don’t have time for or interest in gossip, lies, degrading, trivial or non-productive conversations or activities.

The purge is ongoing, but you are in control of who and what you allow into your life. And who and what you allow to stay and hold you back.

What in your life needs to take a backseat or a ride in a different direction so that you can get to the destination where you really want to be?

Posted in life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer School- Class 2: Mid-year Reset

I used to think Summer School was punishment. Even in college, I hated using my summer to take classes.

Now, not only do I take classes during the summer, but I look for ways to learn every day.  I sometimes feel like I’m behind and there is so much that I could be doing so I look for ways to learn all the time. If you feel like that too, then I would love to help you out as I continue to learn and grow.

Last week I started a short series with a few tips to help get us ahead or get caught up this summer. This summer, this Summer  will hold Summer School with a focus on using this season to help you keep moving forward.

Here’s the first of the 5 simple things to think about or work on right now to get ahead.

  1. Midyear Reset: Get your goals back on track.

We are days away from the end of the first half of the year. On January 1st, what did you say you wanted to accomplish this year?

Did you say that you:

  • wanted to lose weight (how much)?
  • get back in school (when)?
  • save money (how much)?
  • start your business (when)?
  • anything!

Anyone who attends my goal-setting workshops understands the importance of making your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound). That’s why I added those questions behind the examples, but when you set your goals I hope you made each one very SMART.

Now ask yourself, if I wanted to lose 10 pounds by June…how have I done? How much money have I saved? Have I made any progress towards starting my business?

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t met your goal. Don’t even fret if you haven’t started working on it. Instead, refocus and reset. Rewrite your goal to fit a new timeframe.

We have six months left in 2017. That’s a lot of time to make a lot happen!

Oh, and if fear, doubt or procrastination played a role in you not moving on your goals, I would love for you to join me for my online Confidence Class. I’m starting in July so join the Confidence Class wait list to take advantage of special announcements and discounts when registration opens!

Let’s make your dreams come true!

Summer Owens Confidence Class-Waitlist

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment