Summer Owens and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis
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3 Lessons Learned from 36 Years of Powerful Women of Achievement Stories

Exactly 10 years ago, I became a part of the Women of Achievement sisterhood.

It was and has been one of the greatest honors of my life as I sat with women I admired including my African American history professor from a decade earlier, Dr. Beverly Bond. As a brand new author who had just made the scary move of publishing my memoir with details of how I overcame pregnancy from a forced sexual act, I received the 2012 Women of Achievement Heroism Award.

Five new honorees were named with their stories written by Deborah and her team and read by other phenomenal women. So in total, we got to experience 10 new stories of incredible women in Memphis.

2022 Women of Achievement Honorees

For Women’s History Month 2022, I had the honor of hosting the 36th Annual Women of Achievement Awards Program. When one of the Women of Achievement co-founder’s, Deborah Clubb, reached out to me to host the program, I felt just as honored as I had 10 years earlier when I received the Heroism award.

Women of Achievement 2012 and 2022

As the host, a past honoree, and former nominating committee chair, I’ve had the honor of learning so many stories of women of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities that have taught me priceless lessons.


  1. Embrace Your Story – From surviving rape and incest to growing up in poverty or abuse…and everything in between and beyone, the Women of Achievement presenters and honorees all embraced the challenging and traumatic aspects of their stories. They were not limited by their circumstances, and in fact, most were grateful for their journeys.  What’s your ugly or embarrasing story that just maybe you need to embrace?
  2.  Use Your Story – As I read or heard the stories of incredible Women of Achievement, I observed how many of them used their stories. Even when they didn’t tell their stories, they used what they learned through their stories to be stronger and better and to make an impact. They created legislation, marched, led organizations, started organizations, supported other women with the wisdom, compassion and strength gained from using their stories. How can you use your story to be stronger and better or to make a difference for others?
  3.  Share Your Story – In most cases, we want people to think we have it all together and always have. For 36 years hundreds of Women of Achievement honorees and presenters have shared their stories. Painful, embarassing, traumatic stories that would be easier to keep secret. But they recognize the healing power personally and for others when we share our stories to encourage and inspire others. Check out around minute 50 during Mahal Burr’s acceptance speech where I get surprised and almost brought to tears. We will all have different levels of sharing and don’t have to tell “all your business”. But there is incredible strength in vulnerability. What part of your story can you share to help you heal and to inspire someone else?


The list of all past honorees and their stories are on the Women of Acheivement site. Oh, and also for Women’s History Month 2022, I posted an inspiring interview with Deborah. Check it out here:  S.O. What! Success Stories interview with Deborah Clubb.



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!”.