, , , , ,

It’s Not My Place to Judge. Only to Help.

A couple of days ago, I did something I’ve done maybe 100 times now.  I spoke at another school to another group of students, and it was just as fulfilling and exciting as my very first time.

Wonderful Girls

About 500 students, all girls, filled the auditorium and, for the most part, listened to everything I said. There were short girls and tall girls. Small girls and big girls. Prissy girls and tomboyish girls. Friendly faces and mean mugs. I shared my life with them and left them with some important lessons.

They all got quiet and even looked around at each other when I made the statement, “But you all look like me.”

They were all young women. They were all black.

And like me, they all had issues. Things they were dealing with. Things that were holding them back. And hopefully, my S.O. What! message will help them overcome those things.

When I speak, I’m not always sure that I’m fully connecting with the audience- especially children. But, it never fails, after every speaking engagement, a line forms to talk to me. That’s when I know I connected.

Students are thankful

I love when students thank me for sharing my story and tell me that they enjoyed my presentation. And it’s even better when they feel compelled to share theirs with me.

This high school visit was very much like the many others I’ve done and enjoyed, but two of the students who came to talk to me at the end shared new stories with me. I wasn’t shocked by their stories by any means because I’ve probably heard it all, but I was happy they wanted to share with me.

The first approached me and told me that she had made her mother a grandmother at the age of 29.  I knew of a 30-year-old grandmother, but 29 was the youngest for me so far. I hugged her and told her that now she just need to make her mother proud of many more accomplishments. She smiled, thanked me, and said that’s exactly what she was going to do. I later picked this sweet girl up walking home when I left the school.

I really love these kids!

The other young lady who approached me was just as sweet. She said, “I’m a teen mother, but kids make fun of me because I’m a stud.”  I hugged her too.  She explained her story to me, and I just listened. She told me she was doing well in school, taking care of her child, and working two jobs. I applauded her and told her to keep doing everything she could to be the best woman and mother she could be.

Both of these girls were hurting and felt judged by their peers. And judged by many others. I remember and still feel the judgment in my own life and won’t impose that judgment on them. My job is to encourage them and show them how to overcome obstacles – hurt, pain, and all judgment.  And love them. I SO love all of these kids.



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!”.



  1. Sherry Bass
    Sherry Bass says:

    Summer, I love this work that you are doing!! Beautiful writing about the young ladies in the schools that you are reaching out to and sharing your life!!! Your story and S.O. What! will help many lives, just as God intended!! I’m praying for you!

  2. Juanita Bowden
    Juanita Bowden says:

    How awesome it is to know that you are following your dreams and helping these young ladies through your story. It touches my heart to hear how they are willing to open up and talk with you about their life issues. I know that they are suffering, and it is wonderful that they have someone they can look up to that has experienced what they are going through. I encourage you to keep up the good work, and know that I will be praying that God continues to give you the strength and the financial means to keep on keeping on! Love You Ms. Summer “S.O. What” Owens :0