Mention the 2012 Women of Achievement awards celebration to Summer Owens and the word “honor” springs to her mind; not so much the physical award, but rather the idea that she was among the awardees.
Dr. Georgia Patton
Dr. Lisa Jennings
Dr. Beverly Bond
“Wow, it was an incredible honor to be selected as a Woman of Achievement,” Owens said during a post-event conservation with The New Tri-State Defender. “I am particularly honored to be selected with the group of women that I was selected with. They were all great women with huge accomplishments, and it meant a lot to me to be recognized with them.”
During the awards presentation last Sunday (March 25) at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, Owens netted the Heroism Award. She is the author of “Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother.”
The Women of Achievement Awards celebration salutes local women who build businesses and jobs, protect their communities, encourage the struggling and preserve women’s stories for future generations. The celebration – the 28th annual event to commemorate National Women’s History Month – spotlights the ways Shelby County women make change in community and strive for equity.
The other 2012 honorees were:
• Courage – Vanessa Luellen, founder of the Mitchell Heights Neighborhood Watch
• Determination – Carolyn Hardy, president/CEO Chism Hardy Bottling
• Heritage – Dr. Georgia Patton, first African American female physician in Memphis
• Initiative- Dr. Lisa Jennings, biologist and entrepreneur, founder of CirQuest Labs
• Steadfastness – Yvonne Acey, educator and co-founder of Africa in April
• Vision – Dr. Beverly Bond, historian, associate professor and director of African and African-American Studies, University of Memphis
Owens’ story of heroism reflects her becoming a teenage mother at 15.
“For a long time, I just lived with shame, guilt and embarrassment, as a lot of teenage mothers do, and young single mothers,” said Owens. “But I decided that I wanted to share my story to encourage other teen mothers and single mothers to go on with their lives, to not use being a teen mother, being a single mother as an excuse for not being the best they could be.”
Owens wrote a book that chronicled her experience.
“In my book I told about how I finished high school, graduated at the top of my class. I earned a scholarship to the University of Memphis and I was there with my son and did what I had to do, bringing him to class with me at times.”
Owens’ hard work earned her a degree and magna cum laude honors. She also was named Miss University of Memphis. She started her professional career with the Memphis Grizzlies and now is the senior marketing specialist at FedEx.
It is possible, she said, “to do and have anything you want to have in life.”
Women of Achievement Inc., a diverse coalition of community groups and individuals, was founded in 1984. Since the first celebration in 1986, more than 190 women have been honored and their stories and photographs preserved in published volumes “A Legacy of Achievers.”
For more information, visit www.womenofachievement.org. To order the book series, call 274-8709.