Mankato success coach leads academic readiness session at MNSU

Vandy Manyeh
Staff Writer

Destiny Owens got married at 19 and had two kids before her twenty-first birthday. As a first-generation college student, she flunked out and ended up on academic probation during her first year of college. 

Her educational journey pretty much sums up the reason many nontraditional students drop out of college. 

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) – a center under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences – uses the term “nontraditional students” to refer to students like Owens who may have a child while attending college.  

Despite feeling like “hitting a wall,” Owens was able to defy the odds. 

She spoke to a small group of students and university officials about dealing with these “trials” and “hurdles” during an interactive student success event on Sept. 5. The event was hosted by the college’s Women’s Center. 

Owens began her presentation by reiterating the issues students like her are faced with: from financial issues, caused by nontraditional students having to take care of their children’s needs; poor secondary school preparation, depending on the background of a student; lack of teachers and counselors, a problem that many universities are faced with; to choosing a major and conflicts with commitments. 

Students can be able to successfully deal with these issues by taking advantage of the opportunities on campus, according to Owens. 

“Take advantage of what the university has to offer, talk to other people on campus and your professors,” Owens said. 

At Minnesota State University, Mankato, the Women’s Center is in the position to help nontraditional students who are struggling with personal issues while they are in school. The center boasts of organizing events and programs that aid the active participation of women in their educational and personal pursuits.

A countless number of tutors and graduate assistants also help students with one-on-one tutoring sessions and homework assistance.

Owens then gave students some tips to stay on track during their college life. At the top of her list is “great study skills.”

“For me, I had to learn how to study,” Owens said. “In high school, I had to have headphones when I studied. You need to find whatever your niche is. If joining a study group helps you, do that. That’s the easiest way to piggyback off other people.”

Owens also emphasized time management, reading and writing skills and budgeting. 

She then ended with an assurance: “Hurdles and failures are necessary; if you do well all of the time, the college will become easy.”

Owens is the founder of Virtuous Brilliance, a life success business that aims to bring black history and the positive image of Black Americans to the forefront in schools and the community, through its Black Excellence Around Mankato (BEAM) initiative.

Header photo by Vandy Manyeh | MSU Reporter.

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