Pia Owens with her family

Faces of Our Strategic Plan: Pia Owens

April 01, 2024

Pia Owens, originally from a small town in Germany, was facing a big life change. She had just moved to the US after meeting and then marrying her American husband, who had been stationed in Germany. She was facing cultural differences, language barriers, and the need to adapt to a new way of life. But something kept pushing her to pursue her education in her new country. And it was at Mt. Hood Community College that she found her home.

In her native country, Owens had done a three-year, work-study trade school to learn the ins and outs of retail. But to continue her educational path, she wanted to pass the high school equivalency test.

So, despite being brand new to the country, the language, the cultural norms, and pregnant, Owens still had educational goals. She hit a few roadblocks but went back to school at MHCC to complete her GED® certificate in 2022.

“I thought, I need to earn my GED® before my kid graduates high school. The support I got here was different; it felt like home,” Owens said.

With the encouragement of friends and mentors at MHCC, Owens successfully obtained her GED® certificate in the fall of 2022.

But Owens was not done on her education journey. She is currently working toward her general transfer degree, with the goal of becoming a teacher. Her dedication to education is fueled by the positive infuence she has had while helping friends with their studies and tutoring during her time in the GED® program. Balancing the demands of college, a work-study position at Transitions/Transiciones, and a family with five children is no small feat, but Owens emphasizes the importance of a strong support system.

“It would be way harder if I didn’t have that support system,” Owens said.

Owens’ involvement in Transitions/Transiciones, where she welcomes newcomers and helps with workshops, exemplifies her commitment to giving back to the community. She also takes time to guide new students around campus, sharing information about available resources such as the library, tutoring centers, and Barney’s Pantry.

In reflecting on her experiences at MHCC, Owens acknowledges the warm and welcoming atmosphere that sets the campus apart.

“Everybody is just always there with a big smile and open hands, really warm and welcoming. You can feel that as soon as you walk through the doors,” Owens said. As Owens approaches the completion of her degree in June 2024, she leaves a trail of inspiration for others thinking about their educational goals. To those on the fence about attending MHCC, Owens offers this advice: “Come over here and try it out. Don’t give up on the first day. Things will be hard sometimes, but there are a lot of great and awesome people on this campus willing to help out.”