Empowered with Purpose – Hazel Owens’s story (’11/’13)

hazel owensAcross social media, Pandora advertisements, and large-city billboards, Hazel Owens, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni, promotes that Indiana Wesleyan University empowered her to live her purpose. Working as a volunteer coordinator for a non-for-profit, she reflects that her education was a training ground that prepared her to “live her purpose, empowering women through public speaking, broadcasting, and online communication.” Owens, who graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Management in 2011 and her Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management in 2013, never dreamt of herself as a spokesperson for IWU prior to summer of 2013. Two years ago in June, Ms. Owens was working at the Black Expo, a community event that celebrates African American identity in Indianapolis. While there, she connected with representatives from IWU. For the previous several years, Ms. Owens had been attending Indiana Wesleyan University and was only a month away from graduation. Hearing her experience with the school, the IWU worker at the booth suggested that she connect with workers from the alumni association and share her story. Without much preparation, Hazel recorded a brief video highlighting her personal growth through her time at IWU. This commercial, which aired August of 2014, soon became synonymous with IWU promotion for the school. Despite its brevity, this movie powerfully presents the growth Ms. Owens underwent as a student and highlights how her experience at Indiana Wesleyan empowered her to live with purpose.

Prior to her education at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens attended Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, but did not complete her degree. Around the same time, one of her close friends was attending Indiana Wesleyan through the Adult Studies program. She strongly suggested that Owens pursue finishing her schooling at IWU; her voice of encouragement soon coupled with her boss. As Owens was vacillating over the feasibility of working and finishing her degree, she received a new supervisor at her workplace, a woman who was completing her bachelor’s degree through Indiana Wesleyan’s Adult studies program. Encouraged to pursue this opportunity, Owens began to explore the possibility of finishing her schooling while retaining her position at work. Indiana Wesleyan seemed like the perfect mixture of her goals.

Beginning her studies, Owens pleasantly discovered how seamlessly professors and classes at Indiana Wesleyan integrated faith and education. At first, Owens was incredulous as to how effectively faculty would incorporate these components. When she started classes at the satellite school in Indianapolis, Owens was uncomfortable contributing to her professor’s conversations about faith and God. These experiences highlighted her need for spiritual growth, which she began pursuing through her local church. While completing her undergraduate degree, Owens was amazed by the authenticity with which her teachers lived their lives. As she interacted with her professors, she realized that they lived the way in which they taught, demonstrating what Owens called “a real-world scenario” of life outside the classroom.

Following graduation, Owens decided to pursue her master’s degree in Human Resources Management through IWU; at the time she was volunteering for a non-for-profit in Indianapolis and working for a corporation within the student loans industry. Although she was progressing professionally, Owens was unhappy in her career, and thus she was prompted to apply to the business where she was volunteering. Looking back at her time at Indiana Wesleyan, Ms. Owens says she can see how God was preparing her for her current job. While she was looking for a school that could fit her work schedule, instead she found a place that challenged her to grow and develop as a servant leader. Now Ms. Owens manages the volunteer department of a large non-for-profit in Indianapolis. Working at this job has been unlike any position she previously held; Owens said she loves working towards a goal that is bigger than herself and her personal needs. Through this non-for-profit, Owens works to satisfy physical needs and realize personal goals of women in the Indianapolis area. This corporation focuses on empowering women to discover their worth as people and applying this knowledge to their vocation. Owens stated that she loves interacting with these women and hearing their stories.

Although Hazel Owens was a non-traditional student, her journey clearly demonstrates how God used Indiana Wesleyan to help prepare her to live her purpose. Following her involvement in the Adult Studies commercial, Owens saw her face on a billboard in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Upon seeing her face in such a prominent location, Owens admits that the image brought her to tears. “Gary was my humble beginning” Owens stated. Life in Gary was not easy for Ms. Owens, but she expressed her hope that her involvement in this campaign sends the message that “you do not have to become what your environment dictates you will become.” Prior to her enrollment at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens was a successful businesswoman working her way up the cooperate hierarchy, thoroughly miserable. Through her journey, she states as though God prepared her to live her purpose so that she could empower those around her to find their calling as well.

Hazel will be sharing more of her story as an inspiring and informative luncheon on June 16th. The meeting will include lunch meal service.  This event will be at the IWU Indy North Education and Conference Center, 3777 Priority Way, Indianapolis, IN – LOCATION. For more information contact Alumni Relations.

Reserve your space today – $10 per person (includes lunch)


Story written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Junior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their divine potential in written form.

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