Summer Owens and Miriam DeCosta Sugarman

Becoming a Part of History- The Miriam DeCosta Sugarman Marker Dedication Ceremony

There are not many moments when you’re invited to be a part of history.

Last Monday, I had the honor of speaking on the program for a major moment in University of Memphis history.

As part of the University of Memphis’ initiatives to Eradicate Systemic Racism (I’m on one of the committees), new markers and memorials are being created and buildings renamed.

One of the first is the Dr. Miriam DeCosta Sugarmon marker. She was the first black professor at the University of Memphis. Interestingly, I had the privilege of spending time with her two years ago which I shared in .

The day I became a part of history

It was cold outside so the program was brief, but it was beautiful. Vice President for Student Success, Dr. Karen Weddle-West led the program where University of Memphis President, Dr. M. David Rudd, the first president and current president of the Black Alumni Chapter of the National Alumni Association as well as Tennessee State Representative GA Hardaway and Judge Tarik Sugarmon (her son) spoke. And I feel blessed to have been a part of it as the National Board President of the University of Memphis Alumni Assocation.

I’m honored about many accomplishments in my life, and being a part of history last week is one of them.

Check out the full ceremony where I share my experience with the amazing Professor Miriam DeCosta Sugarmon .

Did you get any ideas from the story I shared about how I had gotten the opportunity to meet her years before I knew this opportunity would exist?


I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.