Beverly Owens (right) with
former Tri-C President Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton
|Growing up with divorced parents and moving from household to household to accommodate parents’ rights can be difficult. Beverly Owens was a self-acknowledged daddy’s girl from spending the early years with her father. “I was sheltered, protected and unaware of life on the street,” Owens said.
As a sophomore, Owens decided to live with her mother and siblings on Cleveland’s southeast side. An excellent student at John Hay High School, she transferred to South High, where she graduated in 1983 with honors.
Owens did not consider going to college. Instead, she went to cosmetology school and earned her license eight months later.
With a steady job and a good reputation among her clients, Owens dreamed of being a “famous high stylist” and moving to California. Within a year, however, her mother died and Owens’ grief caused her to make some wrong choices. The dream faded away.
Owens began to hang around with the wrong crowd, which introduced her to street life. She fell in love with the wrong man, leading to more than a decade of improper living. Drug use took her on a downward spiral and she lost the apartment she had shared with her mom. Owens ping-ponged between relatives and friends and eventually became homeless.
Realizing she was pregnant and for the sake of her unborn child, Owens signed in to a shelter and found help. While receiving treatment for addiction, she heard a representative from Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) talk about opportunities for education.
Owens enrolled at Tri-C for the 1998 Winter Quarter and placed her newborn daughter in day care at the Metropolitan Campus. A work-study program helped pay expenses and Owens took advantage of other opportunities at the College to further her education.
Owens credits Jane Schierloh in Student Support Services with putting her in contact with the Black Caucus, which gave her the confidence and support she needed. In 2002, Owens received her Associate of Applied Science degree with a concentration in photography.
While working part time at Tri-C, Owens continued her education at Tiffin University through its online partnership with Tri-C. In 2006, Owens earned a bachelor’s degree in business. Seeing an opportunity to advance at Tri-C, Owens pursued a Master of Science in human resource management, which she earned from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2010.
Then, after 10 years as a part-time employee, Owens accepted a full-time position this past September in the Enrollment Center on the Metro Campus.
Owens’ involvement with Tri-C is truly a family affair. Both her daughters were in day care as infants and toddlers and later were in after-school programs and summer camps. The eldest daughter, a John Hay High School student, is in Tri-C’s High Tech Academy.
“My girls have always seen their mom at school and that has been a great example,” said Owens. “Tri-C has inspired me to be a lifelong learner and it appears that my daughters will be the same. I cannot thank Tri-C enough for the life they have given us and the inspiration and support that sustains us. Truly our futures began here.”