Doctoral degree helped him fulfill a lifelong dream
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Corey Shaun Owens knew at the age of 12 what he wanted to do with his life.
While other kids were dreaming of becoming rock stars and astronauts, Owens had one career goal in mind – becoming a college professor.
With that goal came the understanding that one day he would have to complete a doctorate. Every step he has taken since brought him one step closer to his dream job. and now it’s a reality thanks to his Ed.D. degree in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development from Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies, which he completed in February 2020.
But his doctorate didn’t lead to his dream job right away. He had to be patient.
Owens was an adjunct professor at Urbana (Ohio) University when it permanently shut down in May 2020 because of the pandemic.
“I’m actually Dr. Owens but now I was unemployed, so it meant nothing, at least from an employment standpoint,” he said.
He caught on in September as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Louisville and in July was named Program Director for the university’s Organizational Leadership and Learning program.
He is the lead facilitator for the Cardinal Leadership Institute, an internal leadership development program, and hosts The CardinOLL Call Podcast, which promotes leadership and learning.
Most notable is the role he played in co-developing the university’s new DICEE (Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement & Equity) degree track.
With the discussions of racial tension and inequality rising to the forefront of societal conversations over the last several years, creating a program that focuses on addressing those issues was of utmost importance to Owens.
“We felt that that was very crucial because in the middle of the pandemic, Louisville was at the center of civil unrest with the Breonna (Taylor) case and tragedy that happened,” he said. “We were able to really pull out what organizations felt Louisville did right and what Louisville did wrong and, moving forward, how to correct those from a community or organizational standpoint as well as even from a personal and professional standpoint of just understanding leadership.”
The program opened for the fall semester with standard courses, and Owens said the plan is to begin two new degree-specific courses in the spring.
But Owens didn’t stop there. As if he weren’t busy enough, he has also come back to GCU to serve as a content expert on a doctoral committee.
It’s an experience Owens describes as “awesome.”
“It’s just as exciting to give back to a student through the experience,” he said. “I’m excited for the student. It’s one more doctoral student to push out there, as I say, ‘understanding the purple way.’”
With so many accomplishments since completing his doctoral program, Owens has proved to himself what he’s capable of — and to others, too.
“I just put my nose to the grindstone and did the work, showed up and let my credentials speak for themselves, and obviously they have,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful to GCU for this experience and this degree because it’s what opened the doors to doing what I’m doing now.”
The Ohio native hopes his perseverance motivates his four children to pursue higher education.
“For me, the experience and what this degree means, it’s definitely just the period. It’s the ability to cross off the lifelong goal I had,” he said. “It was the period that allowed me to put the check next to that goal and say, ‘I now know that I can become a college professor at an institution because of Grand Canyon University.’”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]