Tuesday, December 7, 2021
University of Iowa College of Education

Ethan Owens hopes to help future students experience the joys and rewards of making music and collaborating with others. 

Owens, of Runnells, Iowa, will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the College of Education, and a Bachelor of Music from the School of Music. 

He has also been selected as the student commencement speaker at the December 2021 College of Education Undergraduate Commencement and Teacher Education Program Recognition Ceremony

"It's less that I teach music, and more that I teach students using the medium of music, helping them develop skills they can carry into other areas of their life," Owens says. 

His passion for education began even before he came to Iowa. 

"There have been countless teachers who have inspired and challenged me, and I always admired them for their dedication to helping every student improve," Owens says. "I knew that teaching was hard work, but it always seemed that it was more than worth the effort for the relationships and successes that are built out of it." 

Growing up with a mom who is a Hawkeye, Iowa was always on Owens' radar. In fact, he even visited Carver Hawkeye Arena as a toddler to watch his uncle wrestle. Once it came time to actually pick a school, Owens was drawn to the excellent resources and facilities at Iowa, in addition to the outstanding faculty and the opportunity to earn two degrees as recognition of study in both music and education. 

"Ultimately, I felt that Iowa would be the best choice to equip myself with the skills and knowledge to become a great teacher," says Owens. "It was the place that I most wanted to call home." 

Owens has grown as a teacher and as a person throughout his time at Iowa. One of the greatest lessons he has learned was to recognize when he needs help, and actually ask for it. 

Owens says his peers and professors have been nothing but supportive and have made a great impact on him. The thing he appreciates most about the College of Education are the professors and administrators. 

I cannot imagine a group of professionals more dedicated to bettering their students and improving the future of teaching," Owens says. "The faculty are remarkable in their sheer knowledge and mastery as well as in their commitment to every student they work with. It's inspiring to work with experts who care so deeply about both the content and the people." 

The admiration goes both ways, as Owens has made a great impact on those around him during his time in the program. 

One of Owens' professors, Mary Cohen, says, "Ethan is a thoughtful, creative, and brilliant leader. His positivity, genuine care for others, creative brilliance, and resilience make him stand out." 

Cohen believes Owens will continue to make a meaningful impact after his time at Iowa. 

"Ethan will grow musical and creative communities of caring throughout his career that will have rich ripple effects, building thoughtful families, neighbors, and creative musicians who can express themselves authentically and courageously," Cohen says. 

Post-graduation, Owens intends to substitute teach in the spring while looking for jobs to start in the fall. In the future, he wants to further his education through graduate degrees and would like to one day teach at a college or university, either leading instrumental ensembles or working in a teacher education program. 

"The professors I have had here at Iowa have demonstrated how much of a positive impact you can have on students at the college level as they prepare to enter the workforce, and how important it is to have mentors and guides to help navigate that crucial time," Owens says. "That seems like something I'd like to eventually do for others." 

As he prepares to speak to the graduating class, Owens wants to tell his fellow students to just breathe. 

"We've just finished an incredibly hard semester after a series of incredibly hard semesters," Owens says. "You should be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished and all that you have yet to. Enjoy this place where you are for a while- the future will still be there for you."