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Teaching dream comes true

A childhood dream to teach was fulfilled again after five decades when Linda Owen found herself back in front of a three-week mini-mester class at Lone Star College-Fairbanks Center.

“Mini-mester was absolutely awesome! The ‘high’ I got after each day of class was absolutely indescribable,” Owen said with a grin from ear to ear. “After about the third day I realized that teaching those students was fulfilling a deep-seeded need within me that had long ago been buried deep inside my soul and I didn’t even realize it.”

Earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at Stephen F. Austin University, Owen taught only three semesters of Freshman English before love and life took her in a new direction. Along the way, Owen said she lost her sense of self – until she participated in the inaugural Empower U Leadership Academy for staff members at LSC-CyFair.

Throughout Empower U’s monthly activities, program speakers, a community service project and even as early as the fall retreat, Owen began to think about things about herself she hadn’t thought of in decades.

For some 25 years, Owen said she was a wife, mother of two, the cook, bottle washer, doer of all that is laundry, office manager, poultry processing supervisor, basketball coach, cub scout assistant, planter of flowers and caregiver to her ailing mom.

After work she’d go to her mother’s to fix dinner and do whatever needed done around the house. Then she’d rush home to fix her family’s dinner, monitor homework, watch her two soaps and fall into bed – only to do it all again the next day.

Now at age 58, her sons are high school graduates finding their own ways, her mother has passed on and she’s married to the love of her life. She’s also worked the last five years at Lone Star College-CyFair sitting at the Lakeside Café cash register sharing a smile with each person in her lunch line as money and a receipt change hands. In addition, she is also processing vendor billings, initiating catering invoices and handling other administrative functions in the food service department.

Owen said it’s been a good life, for the most part. And while she loves her children and husband and is happy in her job, she had resigned herself to thinking “this is it” and it seemed enough.

“I figured I would stay in this job, basically stress-free most of the time, and I would just bide my time until, if ever, I could retire and ooze on into the life of the proverbial couch potato doomed to eventually wearing moo-moos and using a walker,” she said.

A couple years ago, Owen had been asked to teach an English course but said she didn’t give it a second thought, particularly since it had been some 30 years since she’d been in a classroom. But LSC-CyFair’s Empower U changed everything for Owen.

“This class made me realize I’m not completely dead yet … and probably the happiest time in my life was when I was teaching everybody’s favorite subject – College Freshman English,” Owen said.

So when Owen received an e-mail request to teach mini-mester after she had graduated Empower U, she said it was like lightening hit her. She felt she had a renewed sense of purpose - purpose for herself after living so long for others.

“I realized my life was far from over and I could do anything I set my mind to do which took me by surprise because it’s what I’ve been telling my own kids for years but never stopped to see how I could apply it to my own life,” said Owen.

During her mini-mester class, Owen found herself speaking to her students about living their lives for themselves, that now was not a “dress rehearsal” for their future lives, but was their lives and to follow their hearts and never lose sight of their dreams.

Now Owen is excitedly waiting for the next opportunity to teach another class. “What a labor of love it was and what a difference making a difference makes!”