Going Back to College (Twice!): One New Grad's Journey
By Willena Moye
Imagine being an artist, a single mother with two kids, deciding to return to school after being laid off from the job you have held for the past 13 years. Imagine showing up for advisement and finding out that the person you are scheduled to meet with isn’t really in your field of interest. But that person is kind and attentive. That person listens closely and determines with whom you really should be speaking. That person schedules you an appointment with an advisor in your field, almost immediately. The new advisor is kind, and attentive, and gives great advice.
Thanks to the thoughtful advisement of Assistant Professor Rick Garner and Associate Professor Joe Remillard in the KSU Department of Visual Arts, Owens-Williamson chose Kennesaw State when she made the decision to return to school in 2002. In 2004, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and then decided that she would like to teach. In May, she graduated from KSU with honors again, earning a Bachelor of Science in Art Education.
“I can’t say enough good about Kennesaw. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned how extremely supportive everyone is, what a genuinely good group of people there are here,” she says. “The teachers are really concerned about their students and their success. They let you know what’s available regarding scholarships and jobs.”
For artists, support for one’s creative endeavors is important. Owens-Williamson’s parents were extremely supportive, recognizing her creative talent at a very young age, and encouraging her throughout her school years. At the age of seven, she checked out a book on doll making from her elementary school library and has been making dolls on and off ever since. The first time she went to college, she thought she’d be an architect, but didn’t like the math and science classes she had to take. She switched schools to major in illustration, but she didn't feel the art teachers were very supportive. The people where she worked, however, really seemed to appreciate her and encourage her. So, she dropped out of school to work full-time.
After 13 years, she decided to give college another try and chose Kennesaw State. It turned out to be a perfect fit.
Since graduating in May, she’s spending the summer on her personal creative endeavors—portraiture and doll-making. Her dollmaking, in particular, has brought her some notoriety (she was featured on HGTV’s “That’s Clever!”) and provided a way for her to give back (she donates a portion of the sales of her “Lallipop” dolls to Susan Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer fund).
In the fall, she’ll start her new job as art teacher at Poole Elementary School in Paulding County. She’s happy to have a secure position to look forward to. And, in ten years, she’ll still be teaching art, either in the school system, or possibly from her own facility. Either way, she hopes to be encouraging and supporting art students of her own.
Visit Owens-Williamson's website to view her portfolio.