N.C. Central valedictorian Evan Owens is shown with his wife, Jordan, after graduating last month.

Murphy High graduate earns top honors at N.C. Central

   Durham – Evan Owens never aspired to be a valedictorian, but he made a choice somewhere along the way that made him into one.
   The Murphy High School graduate achieved a perfect straight-A transcript at N.C. Central University and earned honors as the top student in the Class of 2017.
   Owens – the son of Jeff and Donna Owens, recent residents of Hanging Dog – was not the top student in his class in high school.
   “I fooled around a little during my freshman and sophomore years, and if you’re going to be valedictorian, you pretty much have to be perfect,” Owens said. “I decided I wanted to get into the Naval Academy, and that’s when I started to change my approach to school.”
   Owens did not end up gaining admission in Annapolis but earned a full scholarship to N.C. Central.
   “College is a fresh start. I decided I was going to determine who I’m going to be from day 1,” he said.
   “I made a choice that I was going to my all into it. Someone paid an endowment for me to get that scholarship, and I wanted to justify their investment in me.”
   Owens said it was not always a breeze getting all A’s, nor did he shoot for that specifically at the beginning. But as each report card came in, he started thinking more and more about it.
   “I didn’t know if I could keep it going, but by my senior year I decided to see if I could make it and see it all the way through,” Owens said.
   He had an art class that he thought gave him his first B, but the professor emailed him later and said he made an error. It got straightened out mere days before graduation.
   Owens majored in communications with a focus in journalism, becoming co-editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, The Campus Echo.
   His message to high school graduates today is to challenge yourself to achieve bigger and better things.
   “When you get to college, it’s important to think about the good things you did in high school, don’t focus on the negative,” he said. “Go in with a clear mind and work hard. You might surprise yourself.”