Alumni Spotlight: Kendra Owens ’21


My name is Kendra Owens and I graduated from Denison in 2021. I double majored in Classical Studies and Psychology- a true liberal arts mix! A few things I was involved in include being a tour guide and Senior Denison Docent, served as the President of Eta Sigma Phi (The Classical Studies Honor Society), and served as President and Treasurer of the Cheerleading team, while cheering for both football and basketball. 

A bit about your current role:

I currently serve as the Assistant Director of Admission at Birmingham-Southern College – a small liberal arts school in Birmingham, Alabama. Every admission counselor in our office oversees students from different areas of the country. I work closely with our students from Georgia and the Midwest. As an Assistant Director, I also supervise two Admission Counselors in our office. 

As an admissions representative, my overall goal is to recruit prospective students to Birmingham-Southern College. I recruit through a variety of efforts including attending college fairs, meeting one-on-one with students, visiting high schools, giving admission presentations, and hosting campus visits and events. 

What did your career exploration look like at Denison and how did you decide upon your chosen industry or current role?

If I am being honest, I really did not know what I wanted to do in my Post-Denison career. As a first-year student, I really enjoyed exploring my options by taking a lot of courses in different subjects – all while helping me complete my general education requirements. I also explored future career paths within the Knowlton Center. I was able to get connected with alumni in marketing, sales, and human resource fields and started asking questions to help determine my post-graduation plans. Albeit, it was early in my first and sophomore year, I was really glad that I was able to get connected and start narrowing down my interests. 

It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I became a campus tour guide that a career in higher education really clicked. Over my sophomore to junior year summer, I had the opportunity to intern in the Office of Admission. That will forever be one of my favorite summers – I was gaining a lot of experience that could transition into any career while having a lot of fun on campus. As a summer intern, I gave many tours, represented Denison in larger campus programs, facilitated program planning, and gained customer service skills.

During my sophomore year, I got connected with a Knowlton Center Career Coach. Together, we chatted about opportunities, did some preliminary resume building, and explored potential careers. I am really grateful I made that connection early, so that when my senior year came, I already had someone in the Knowlton Center who knew me and knew what I wanted.

As my senior year started, I was really grateful to have mentors in the Office of Admission to continue exploring my passion in higher education. Since the office was hosting mainly virtual events, I was able to join in. I was able to attend virtual high school visits, mock-review applications, attend virtual college fairs, and assist with application yield efforts. I was also able conduct interviews and continue giving tours my senior year.  

How did Denison, or your liberal arts education, prepare you for your career?

I am not sure where I would be in my career if it wasn’t for my Denison education. Not only did I gain valuable liberal arts skills, I gained amazing mentors who pushed me to be where I am today. Through all the exploration, resume building workshops, programs, virtual high school visits, etc., I felt so prepared to graduate and take my next steps. 

When I chat with Birmingham-Southern prospective students, I always mention how much of a believer I am in the liberal arts education. I truly believe it is the best education you can receive in today’s world. With the job market ever changing (New York Times just released a statistic that 60% of jobs in the next 20-30 years do not exist today) a liberal arts education is the only type of education that can mold with the future. You are taught how to critically think, communicate effectively, creatively problem solve, and learn ideas across disciplines (among other life skills). You are preparing for not only your first job out of graduation, but your six, seventh, and eighth job.

No matter where I end up in my career, I know that I have built a strong foundation using the opportunities Denison presented me and my liberal arts education to succeed anywhere.

Advice you have for students when it comes to career exploration? 

Start early and get connected! Even if you have no idea what you want to do, just start exploring. Not only are you gaining valuable experience and knowledge, you are also narrowing down what you truly are passionate about. Or maybe you are deciding what you think you want to do is not actually what you want to do – and that is okay! You do not have to know all the answers at 20 years old, but you want to set yourself up to succeed. The Knowlton Center is the place to do that.

Getting connected with Career Coaches early will also help you to explore. They are the experts! Build up that relationship so that further down the line when it is time to determine your next steps, you feel confident going into the Knowlton Center to ask for advice and resources. 

Something I’ve also learned in my post-Denison career is to continue staying connected! Your mentors don’t leave you when you step on that stage to get your diploma. They are there for you and want to see you succeed in your career and life in general! From LinkedIn congratulation posts on my promotion to wellness emails, I still feel very connected to the Denison community.

By Ashley Strausser
Ashley Strausser