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Mars Hill University Graduate in the News

Monday, May 9, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
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Stacy Bowen is a NASW-NC member.


Story from the Asheville Citizen-Times

ALEXANDER - After her husband, Asheville firefighter Jeff Bowen, died battling a fire nearly five years ago, Stacy Bowen struggled to make sense of things.

She was trying to figure out “what does all this mean?” and trying “to make some semblance of what is the greater good here.”

“I kept searching and looking and trying to figure all that out,” Bowen said in an interview. “And everything I sought after kept bringing me back to my drive and passion to help others.”

The 47-year-old decided to return to school to obtain a degree in social work and embark on a new career.

After two years of night classes, Bowen will graduate on Saturday with a degree from Mars Hill University. She’s one of two student speakers who will address the graduates during the graduation ceremony.

Bowen will represent the Adult and Graduate Studies program.

Mars Hill has about 200 students in the program, according to Marie Nicholson, dean of the Adult and Graduate Studies.

They are nontraditional students. For some, they are attending college for the first time. Others are looking to change careers or move up in their current career.

The adult students all have their own “a-ha moment" that brought them back to school, according to Bowen.

“I can say without a doubt I would have never went down this road without that life-changing event,” she said.

At the time of her husband’s death, Bowen was working at Thermo Fisher Scientific as a supervisor. She had her bachelor’s degree in business and was working on a master’s degree in business from Montreat College.

Her life changed on July 28, 2011.

Capt. Jeff Bowen was one of the first firefighters to respond to the fire at the medical office building on Biltmore Avenue.

An autopsy showed he died of smoke and fume inhalation after running out of oxygen while inside the building.

“I can think back and I remember thinking there’s not enough time in the world to make this pain go away. It will never happen,” Bowen said. “And I don’t know exactly when it got any easier, but at some point it has.”

She says healing was a process.

“It was very, very bad for a really, really long time. Year three was really bad,” Bowen said. “But I think somewhere in year four, it got a lot better.”

Her social work classes served as a kind of therapy, with some assignments forcing Bowen to deal with things.

“I really don’t think I would be as far along in my grief process if I hadn’t had to do those things,” she said.

One of the things Bowen plans to talk to her fellow graduates about on Saturday is the relationships they’ve formed with classmates.

The Adult Studies students are rooted in the area, Bowen said.

“We’ve been here for years, and we’re going to continue to be here and we’re going to stay here. These are relationships we’re not going to lose,” she said.

Bowen, who lives in Alexander, will begin work later this month with the Madison County Department of Social Services in Adult Protective Services.

She grew up in Madison County and said, “That’s where I need to be to be giving back to my community.”

She believes her husband is proud of her.

“Like I said, if he were still alive, I would not be here today, doing what I’m doing. But from where he’s at now, I think he’s very happy. I think he’s very proud. So I hold on to that,” Bowen said.

Read article here.

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