Feels amazing to use time, talent, and even trials to transform the lives of others.
This past Saturday, the S.O. What! Foundation hosted nearly 50 awesome teenagers at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis. I had a little selfish motive for having the event there because I love my school, and would love to have every teen in attendance come to the UofM when they graduate.
My other motive was simply to expose the teens to a college campus, and I’ll do that as often as I can so that they are comfortable with the college atmosphere and get excited about going.
Our awesome program director, Netisha Burnett,
helped me organize a great event that the teens truly enjoyed (you can always tell because they were fully engaged volunteering to share and asking lots of questions)!
The night before I got use my crafting skills to make picture frames with key messages I wanted the participants to get and share through selfies. This is me with Chris Eggleston, Founder and CEO of Global Innovation Now, an app development company, showing the teens how to use the frames.
Each teen got a S.O. What! Foundation backpack, University of Memphis goodies (pompoms, pens, and buttons), and more.
Netisha kept everything running smoothly (and SOOOOO much more including securing donations of food, printing, and money!). That’s her mom above on the right who held down registration!
My great friend, Gloria, is in the middle. She donated nearly all of our prizes and was an awesome volunteer and is always one of my biggest supporters!
And our awesome intern, Jasmine, kicked everything off with an ice breaker that got everyone up, talking, and getting to know each other.
Our sessions were-Self-esteem, Friends, Sex, and Success.
My awesome friends and fellow professionals did an amazing job leading the teens in great discussion and activities on each of the topics.
I led the discussion on Self-esteem to get us started. It was powerful to hear the students share how they saw themselves, how others see them, and how to accept certain things and adjust others.
Because of the power and impact of friends on self-esteem, sex, and success, I thought it was important that we discuss it. My college suite mate from 1997, Erania Pruitt, led this discussion. The teens got a kick out of the fact that we were in college in 1997 because none of them were born yet. She did an awesome job demonstrating the various types of friends we can have and why we need them.
Here the students are doing an activity demonstrating the power of friends.
Community Outreach Director for A Step Ahead Foundation, Belinda Simpson, and Chris Eggleston, led the real talk discussion on sex. The teens were very interested as you can imagine and also had great questions.
Chris led the final session talking about Goal-setting and Success. Like in all the other sessions, the teens were fully engaged and wanted to talk more. We definitely have to make adjustments for the next workshop to allow more time because holding their attention was never an issue!
I tied a bow on the day by bringing everything together that we had discussed and having the teens reflect on how these things can impact their futures. The teens enjoyed making vision boards and envisioning how good decisions would help them have anything they want in life.
When parents came to pick up the participants, we even got a few other cuties in the frames. They will be attending S.O. What! workshops in a few years!
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!”.