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Kym Owens, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Feb7For Kym Owens, one of the best things about social work is its versatility. “I always joke to my students — they say the average person will have eight to 10 career changes over the course of their lifetime, and with a social work degree you can do that with just the one degree,” she said.

She would know. Since entering the field more than 25 years ago, she’s worked with children, the elderly and people with severe and persistent mental illness, staying true to the profession’s mission of empowering vulnerable and oppressed populations. She’s written grants, directed a non-profit and spent time as a private-practice therapist. Now she’s entering what’s shaping up to be an eventful second year as an assistant professor at Colorado Mesa University. In fall 2014, Owens will spearhead CMU’s new Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) program, the first in western Colorado.

“Thankfully I’m a high energy person, otherwise it probably wouldn’t work,” she laughed.

She’s truly building the program from the ground up. Owens was hired in 2012 to start a minor in social work. Prior to that time there had not been a program on campus. “It’s been a very popular minor because it’s complementary to just about any major, so my classrooms are filled with a lot of different disciplines and diversity, which I really enjoy,” she said. “Just this past year, the administration and my department head approached me with the desire to move forward with a bachelor’s degree in social work.”

The program and curriculum were approved in October 2013 and entered the first phase of the three-year accreditation process required by the Council on Social Work Education. The council requires that students apply for admission into the program. Once accepted, they’ll be placed in a two-year cohort program. “One of the nice things about a cohort program is that you can form close bonds and friendships that last a lifetime,” said Owens.

At any given time there may be 100 to 120 students in the BSW program or working towards applying, Owens said. “Because there’s just going to be two faculty overseeing the major, we’re only going to allow 20 students into the first cohort.” She expects the program to become more competitive in the next two to three years.

The BSW program is an exciting opportunity for the Western Slope. In the past, students could only obtain a social work degree on the Front Range. “it’s a really neat opportunity for western Colorado and for students that know that they want to get a social work degree,” Owens said. “Plus, all the local social service agencies are thrilled … There’s a tremendous need and demand for social workers in Grand Junction.” •

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

970.248.1868 (o)

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