The Transylvania Times -

BRCC Graduate Works Hard And Dreams Big - Brevard NC


Last updated 12/10/2018 at 2:53pm

Owen's paintings contain details. She hopes to use her art to help clients when she becomes a psychiatrist. (Courtesy photo)

Christen Owen will walk across the stage and receive her Associate's of Arts degree Dec. 14, 2018. The Blue Ridge Community College graduate is 18 years old.

Owen has been a colorful part of Blue Ridge's Transylvania Campus since the fall of 2016 when she started as a dual-enrolled high school student at age 16.

As a homeschooler during 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, Owen, who lives with her parents and brother near Lake Toxaway, taught herself German and guitar. She practiced both writing and drawing, trying something, like an eye, over and over until she liked the result. Writing and drawing were like therapy to Owen when she felt lonely at home, which is a "cabin in the middle of the woods with a 10-minute long dirt driveway."

In Owen's 11th grade year, she entered Blue Ridge Community College through the dual-enrollment program for high school students.

She remembers, "It was very strange because I hadn't taken a class, had not been in a classroom setting since I was in eighth grade.

"After three years of being at my house, being on the computer, not being in a classroom setting, I was actually really excited to start here. Then it just was so overwhelming, but in a good way, to walk into my first class and sit down at a desk with school supplies."

Faculty and staff were happy to welcome this unique, cheerful, brilliant student. Owen, who has a gothic style, appreciates the atmosphere at Blue Ridge.

"I love the open-mindedness that's here, that everybody thinks I'm just artistic and creative, rather than some weirdo who likes to dress differently," she said.

Owen was happy to find there is "no social stress here."

Owen became known for her artistry at Blue Ridge. She won prizes for the Halloween costume contest three years in a row. When the drawing class displays their work, Owen's sketches jump off the bulletin board due to their amazing detail.

Joanna Danis-Stys, art instructor for Blue Ridge Community College, said, "Christen is very talented and has a great potential to succeed, not only in visual arts, but I believe that in any area she will pursue her career. Christen brings a positive atmosphere to the class, always being pleasant and helpful towards other students."

Having completed two years of college coursework by age 18, Owen has a head start on college progress. Owen has a goal to major in pre-medicine at a university such as UNC-Chapel Hill and then go to medical school to become a psychiatrist. Owen plans to utilize art therapy in her future practice.

Owen, who works at Sapphire Valley Resort and The Greystone Inn, wants to save money after graduation before she transfers.

"I really want to get a new car because right now I'm driving a '97 Buick, which I love my Buick, but I just want something for when I go off to a big university," she said.

Owen said Blue Ridge Community College has been important for her development of character.

"I definitely accom-plished way more here than I ever thought I would, like Blue Ridge made me realize that I could," she said. "Before I started here, because I went so many years without doing any official school work, I thought that there is no way I'm going to be able to go off and get a doctorate, but now I feel like that's actually a possible thing. So I'm really proud of what I've accomplished and how I've changed already."

Christen Owen

Blue Ridge Community College is sending forth a special scholar: a transfer university student, a self-starter full of self-discipline and work ethic, an artist and future novelist, a future psychiatrist who will use art therapy to help others.

It will be with great pride that Blue Ridge Community College faculty and staff watch Christen Owen graduate and move her tassel.

Spring semester classes at Blue Ridge Community College begin Monday, Jan. 7. For more information about dual enrollment or admissions, call (828) 883-2520 or visit


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