Pursuing her dreams

By Chase Jordan

June 3, 2014

Moneika Owens is pursuing her dreams in the medical field and is looking forward to making a difference by helping others, she said.

“Coming from Sampson County, I’m very thankful for everyone who has shaped me into the person that I am,” she said. “Once I do become a physician, I plan to reach back to my community by helping in whatever way that I can.”

Her journey began more than a decade ago.

The Sampson County native grew up in Roseboro and is the daughter of Sherrie (Jeffery) Johnson and Mickey (Deneen) Baggett. She graduated from Lakewood High School in 2003 and was third in her class.

Owens recently received a doctorate in medicine from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

She’s the first in her family to graduate from college. A lot of young people in her family will now look up to her.

“I’m glad that I’ll be there for them,” she said about offering guidance and advice.

Prior to receiving her doctorate from UNC-Chapel Hill, Owens received a master’s in medical science from Hampton University and a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Owens was involved in minority student recruitment, a member of a hip-hop dance troop and volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was also a graduate assistant and advisor for pre-medical students at Hampton University.

In medical school, she participated in the Student National Medical Association, serving as co-chair for community service and vice president. During her second year, she spearheaded a project which targeted childhood obesity.

She is also a member of the Clinton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Owens will pursue family medicine, and in the next three years, she will be training through a residency program at Carolinas Medical Center in Concord.

Next, she plans to work in an underserved area in North Carolina and help people with financial difficulties.

She said Sampson Regional Medical Center had a big influence on her decision to pursue medicine.

“I would like to thank my childhood doctor, Dr. (Tommy) Newton at Clinton Medical Clinic for all of his inspiration and guidance,” Owens said.

Through her hard work, Owens has obtained several degrees, but, she was quick to point out it was not easy.

During her journey through school, Owens said she was challenged with trying to figure things out when it came to matters such as applying for financial aid.

“When I got to college, I realized how disadvantaged I was coming from Sampson County, compared to the other students,” Owens said. “Now, I was amongst people who were all at the top of their class. I realized that it was going to be a lot of hard work for me to catch up.”

She said learning how to study properly and tests were also struggles.

Owens encourages others not to be discouraged, despite a lack of resources, connections or money.

“Turn that into something positive and make it a victory for your life, instead of being the victim,” she said.

Owens received several scholarships after applying for them and encourages others to do the same.

“It’s important to build relationships and connections with people,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help so you can reach your goals.”

For Owens, believing is important.

“Know that you can do anything, but you may have to work a little harder,” she said. “Keep the course and don’t give up.”