When he first learned about Chestnut Hill College, McKeithan Owens believed it was God’s way of guiding him back to Catholic school. “The program fit so well,” he says. “It allows me to be who I am and write and talk about God.”
Owens is getting ready to graduate from the School of Continuing & Professional Services (SCPS) in May with a degree in Human Services and a minor in Psychology.
While earning that degree, he has been working as a full-time counselor at the Wedge Recovery Center in Philadelphia, where he works closely with people who have been adjudicated to the program. He accompanies them to court and updates the judge, who then makes decisions about the participant’s continued stay at the Wedge.
He enjoys the work and believes it helps illustrate to those within the criminal justice system that not everyone is out to get them. “The judge and public defender and DA will work with them, and it shows them the system works in a positive way, not just a negative one.”
Owens worked his way up to this position, and then found about the program with Community College of Philadelphia that would allow him to work as a counselor while earning an associate degree. He was able to transfer his credits to the program in SCPS, and now, nearing the end of his time at CHC, he is in a senior seminar course he finds timely—Reconstruction of the African American Family.
“It’s about spending time with the family to build it back up; about forming healthy attachments; and disconnecting from unhealthy ones,” he explains. “No one is born inherently bad. What happened? Maybe it was a lack of education or an unaddressed traumatic experience.
“When I interact with people, it’s about listening, speaking with them with respect and empathy, building rapport and having relationships … to show them something they may not have had before or in a long time.”
Owens had his own struggles to work through before he could arrive at a point of helping others.
“I had a spiritual awakening when my eldest daughter was about 7,” he explains. “I was headed down the wrong path, until one day, when I looked into my daughter’s eyes and I felt the Holy Spirit fall on me. I felt something leave me in that moment, and I haven’t had the desire to do anything but be identified with Christ since. I have been walking with the Lord since February 13, 2011. And I have dedicated myself to God, however he sees fit to use me.”