June 10, 2018
PLANO — Like a fly on the wall, North Texas women's basketball's Callie Owens stood in the corner of the examining room one May afternoon, silent but wide-eyed.
In the background of the narrow examining room draped in scrubs soaking in everything that was happening in front of her, the white walls that surrounded probably seemed to close in as she watched the doctor she'd been shadowing inform a patient they had cancer.
With little free time in their schedules, it can be difficult for student-athletes such as Owens to gain real world work experience. But in the weeks between the end of the spring semester and the start of summer school and basketball practices, Owens got that exposure as she shadowed an ENT-otolaryngologist plastic surgeon, a profession the redshirt sophomore is passionately pursuing.
"I've always wanted to be a doctor," Owens said. "Everyone says medical school is tough and attempting to do that while being a student-athlete is really hard but anyone can take the easy route and I don't want to be like anyone."
If there's one thing Owens isn't, it's like every one else.
While blood and the gore of cutting flesh might be enough to turn away most from wanting to be a surgeon, Owens finds it interesting.
She wasn't allowed to shadow the doctor during surgery but said she got experience seeing a patient go through the process of having an unrecognizable face from lacerations in a car crash to being stitched back together and completely healed.
"To see someone go through that process was really awesome," Owens said. "One of the cool things about plastics is you have a wide variety of patients and to see how they all can be helped was something that really stuck with me."
Along with finding surgery interesting, what also makes Owens unique is her fun personality.
A suspect to perform a cartwheel in practice, Owens has brought a refreshing positive energy to the Mean Green women's basketball team that impacted the program before she has even suited up to play for UNT due to NCAA transfer rules.
"Callie has a personality everyone loves and respects," said head coach Jalie Mitchell. "Sitting out is not an easy task, but she has handled it with so much grace and humility. She was able to see things from a different perspective and therefore, has a very clear view of how she can continue to impact this team in a positive way."
Despite being an underclassman, since Owens returned to North Texas for summer workouts and practices she has emerged as more of a leader.
While she's always been a positive vocal force, in her first week back the Mean Green coaches were impressed by her leadership and ownership of the program.
"When I came here I wanted to be part of what I felt was an improving and winning culture," said Owens who transferred last summer from Pacific. "Now that I'm here, I want to make sure I'm doing all that I can to keep improving our program."
The doctor Owens shadowed was based out of her hometown of Plano. She was first introduced to the doctor as a patient when she had a potential cancerous mole removed from her chest.
Owens said her experience watching the doctor tell the patient they had cancer was the toughest part of her time shadowing and described the moment as "eye-opening" but certainly not discouraging.
"To see the horror on the face of the patient and his wife was really hard," Owens said. "But it's the reality of being a doctor."
Nearly every day during the break, Owens stood in the backdrop of the doctor's office and watched as a variety of patients came through.
Though she still has three years at UNT before she begins the next step to becoming a doctor, Owens said her experience shadowing left a positive impact on her and has influenced her to continue striving to become "Dr. Owens."
"Being exposed to all of it was important and I think what I took away the most was the affirmation that I want to be a doctor," Owens said. "I know it's tough but I can do it."