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tennessee technological university

Communications & Marketing

thumb PepperOwensPepper Owens could tell you a thing or two about work-life balance.

For years, she worked full time and took college courses during her lunch break, all while raising nine children. She ran out of courses before she accumulated enough credits for a bachelor’s degree. She had about 80 hours of credit, across a variety of disciplines. No one discipline had enough hours for a degree. She gave up.

In 2004, TTU’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies reached out to her. Owens enrolled in interdisciplinary studies through the Regents Online Degree Program and finished her degree in the fall of 2007. Then she lost her job just as the economy was starting to turn sour.

In 2008, she went on to start a master’s degree in mental health counseling. She got her second degree from Tennessee Tech in May 2011.

Finishing her degrees was a step-by-step process. She said she was never sure whether she would be able to finish the work required each semester, let alone the next one or the one after that.

But her persistence paid off and enabled her to begin a career as a therapist for foster children with Camelot Care Centers.

Before she lost her job and discovered her new career, Owens held a variety of jobs in the Cookeville area in advertising, marketing and graphic design.

Owens has an appreciation for her earlier work but a passion for her counseling career. Working with foster children who are having trouble resonates with Owens. There was a time in her life when she needed extra help with life’s problems herself. She was the recipient of Putnam County Habitat for Humanity’s first home, and even after raising nine children, she still questions the best ways to handle difficult situations, especially those that arise as a result of mental illnesses.

Owens has overcome adversity and worked against the odds to achieve personal, professional and educational success. Completing her degrees at TTU means more to Owens than finding a rewarding career she loves. Her academic achievements have made her an exemplary role model to encourage her children and her foster children to finish college as well.