Starting over: Adult education valedictorian changes careers, eyes nursing
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
Last year, Faye Kirkland Owens had a dream. She wanted to become a nurse.
Now, the Blount County Adult Education Program’s valedictorian is one step closer to realizing her dream.
Owens, who was scheduled to graduate from Heritage High School, dropped out in the 10th grade, got married and had a child. She received her General Educational Development (GED) credential about 30 years ago.
Since that time, Owens has worked at Ruby Tuesday and was a real estate agent.
In recent years, she has felt called to be a nurse. “My sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer about five years ago. I saw the kindness and dedication that her nurses exhibited on a daily basis, and they really improved her quality of life.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer other people, and I’m constantly reminded of my grandmother who had a near-death experience,” Owens said. “She saw Jesus, and I have a very strong faith in our Lord. I feel called to work with people and help them find peace in their final days.”
She made her first step in that direction last year. She sat for the Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville licensed practical nurse program’s entrance exam and failed it.
Owens then started taking the Blount County Adult Education Program’s classes. She brushed up on math, reading comprehension, science and social studies.
Owens also worked closely with teachers Mary Morehead, Betsy Norton and Glenda Turner to master the test’s math section. “When I took my LPN test, math was my sore spot. I failed it. I’m very blessed that they took the time to explain things to me and gave me extra homework, so I could truly understand it. All my hard work paid off on the test. I scored in the 98th percentile, and I give them all the credit.”
She also worked closely with teachers to learn about essay writing. “I had no idea how to write one when I started. They had to teach me about introductions, conclusions and body paragraphs. I scored in the 96th percentile, and I give them all the credit for it, as well.”
Owens received 710 out of a possible 800 on her battery of tests. She also received a perfect score on the science portion.
After taking the battery of tests, Owens sat again for the Tennessee Technology Center at Knoxville licensed practical nurse program’s entrance exam. The valedictorian scored in the 96th percentile this time.
“I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill my dreams without the Blount County Adult Education Program,” she said.
Owens, who is currently taking prerequisite courses at Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus, plans to become a licensed practical nurse next spring. She will then start working to become a registered nurse.
The valedictorian wanted to publicly encourage community members to support adult education. “We’re so blessed to have this opportunity in Blount County and across the entire state. I’d like to encourage people to stay in touch with their representatives and talk with them about the importance of adult education. It’s a much-needed program.”