Summer Owens


  • Resilience 

  • Leadership

  • Student Success

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about Summer

Sometimes life can seem so unfair, and for some students getting to and through college can be a major challenge. Summer’s life experiences put her in the perfect position to help your students succeed- no matter what. Summer Owens has been practicing extreme resilience and leadership since she was 15. After becoming a mother as a result of a forced sexual encounter, she graduated number eight in her high school class, was voted Most Likely to Succeed, and earned the Emerging Leaders scholarship to college.

A first-generation college student with a two-year old son, Summer navigated the unfamiliar rigors of college life. With her son by her side, she became a campus leader in several organizations, from Student Activities Council to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

Balancing academics, campus leadership, motherhood, and an internship, she managed to graduate Magna Cum Laude and was named Miss University of Memphis. After a 15-year corporate career with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and FedEx, and after earning an MBA, Summer became a speaker helping youth and young adults develop a SO What! Mindset to: 

Overcome Obstacles. Eliminate Excuses. Calculate Choices. Achieve SO What! Success

An adjunct professor, Summer was asked to use her first book, Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother, to create a course to help students succeed in the classroom and in life. 

For her impact, Summer has received awards including Memphis Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, Women of Achievement Heroism Award, McDonald’s/Memphis Grizzlies Community Hero Award, Outstanding Young Alumna for the Fogelman College of Business and Economics, the Distinguished Young Alumna Award, and the Greg Smith Strength Award from the National Speakers Association.

Summer has been featured nationally and internationally on CNN HeadlineNews, the 700 Club, Speaker Magazine, and several other media outlets.


SO What!: How Two Words Can Change Your Whole Life

Students face challenges of all types, from personal to academic and everywhere in between.  Some are inherited and some are created. Dealing with stress and anxiety and overcoming obstacles may seem impossible. Too often this causes many to give up or not fulfill their potential. 

Summer Owens (SO) has a recipe to overcome even the greatest hurdles. 

This program helps students examine their situations and envision the possibilities of what could be regardless of their challenges by developing world-class resilience. Through her personal story and practical/applicable strategies audience members can deploy immediately, Summer demonstrates the power of a mindset based on two little words:

“SO What!”

Learning Outcomes

Audience members will...
  • Understand the importance of resilience and how to develop grit to handle adversity and leverage their challenges 

  • Identify the conscious/subconscious obstacles to their success and feel empowered to overcome them

  • Learn how to develop a SO What! Mindset to achieve more in spite of challenges

  • Receive the tools to create a personal resilience strategy to deal with past, current, and future trauma and stress

Ideal Audiences
  • First Year Experience/First Gen Programs
  • Fraternity/Sorority Life
  • Leadership Development
  • Keynote
  • Workshop

SO (Now) What?: New Habits for a Fresh Start and Strong Finish


Maybe you’ve defied the odds and made it to college. 

Maybe you’re the first in your family to do it.

Some say, it’s not how you start but how you finish. 

What’s rarely said, though, is how you start can determine IF you finish. Starting something new for some is fun and exciting. For others it may be frightening and intimidating. But for all it is new and unknown. Some of the biggest barriers to success students face involve bringing old habits into a new environment, not understanding how established ideas might inhibit success. 

In this program, Summer helps students examine their lives, their challenges, and their goals to begin with the end in mind. She shares the key actions students should take when they start college or a new school year to exceed even their own expectations for college completion and success in careers and in life.

Learning Outcomes

Audience members will...
  • Be motivated to get involved in and leverage student leadership and involvement for academic and career success

  • Plan how to leverage resources to help them achieve their goals

  • Develop practical ways to maximize their potential and the opportunities of their college experience for completion and lifelong impact

  • Assess their past behavior to determine the actions to start, stop, and continue in order to succeed in college

Ideal Audiences
  • New Student Orientation
  • First Year Experience/First Gen Programs
  • Keynote
  • Workshop

The Unlikely Leader: From Imposter to Impactful


Do you find yourself in a leadership position, yet feel like maybe you’re an imposter? Leading, but not sure where you’re going or what you’re doing?

It’s hard to lead when others doubt you or when you doubt yourself.  Many before you have valiantly stepped up to the plate, dealt with the doubters, and made an impact. You can do it, too.

You might be new to leadership or nervous that everyone will realize you don’t have all the answers. You might feel unprepared or not fit the role of an ideal student leader.

From this moving presentation, you will learn how to turn judgement and self-doubt into positive catalysts for impactful leadership. You will examine your abilities and your motivation for leadership. You will identify how your unique challenges and experiences will make you stand out as a leader on campus and for life. 

This inspiring program provides a blueprint you and fellow student leaders can use to become more confident leaders who build confidence in others and make a meaningful impact.

Learning Outcomes

Audience members will...
  • Consider how  to leverage their positions for personal, academic, and life-long impact

  • Increase their confidence in their leadership and ability to impact their chapters and communities.

  • Disarm the doubters including themselves

  • Develop practical ways to demonstrate servant leadership, confidence, and authority

Ideal Audiences
  • Leadership Development

  • Fraternity and Sorority Life

  • Student Government

  • Keynote
  • Workshop
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