Experts in the Field: Finding Reward in Service
Dr. Harry Owens Jr., served with us in Nzara, South Sudan for three months, and again in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan for three months. He has made it his life’s mission to bring hope, healing, and compassion to those less fortunate — he has dedicated his life to service. Dr. Harry holds degrees in Biology and Medicine from St. Louis University and a Masters in International Management (MIM) from the Thunderbird Garvin Graduate School at Arizona State University.
Dr. Harry tells us, “I love the outdoors, I’m not scared to stray two feet off the pavement, and I love taking care of people.” This spotlight shows how this lifestyle has brought Dr. Harry Owens around the world to serve.
Why did you choose to live this life of service?
In my junior year, I really started to think about going into the priesthood. After a year of pre-med, my parents gave me their blessings to go into the seminary. I realized that Loyola had solidified for me a strong spiritual connection. So I left the seminary and made treating the whole person a part of my medical practice.
The truth is, I prefer a simple lifestyle — helping others. Some people ask me how I do it, how can I travel so often and so far from modern comforts. I tell them my way of life is more of a reward than a sacrifice. I have the perfect temperament for it. I love the outdoors, I’m not scared to stray two feet off the pavement, and I love taking care of people.
When I am not practicing in Antarctica, Africa, or the Amazon, I spend time in my little cabin on the McKenzie River in Blue River, Oregon. I use what little money I make to cover basic costs, the rest goes to charity.
It must have been hard living so remotely. Tell us about that and how you cope.
Survival wasn’t a challenge. It was a way of life. You don’t need much to get by. This approach helps me feel at home no matter where I go. Whether I’m in the jungle or in the Nuba Mountains in war torn Sudan, I’m not daunted by the remoteness of an area. I am invigorated by it.
I have enjoyed every place that I’ve been. There are special challenges, interesting things, as well as interesting people to meet. In most of my work, a little effort goes a long way since many of these areas as so desperate for better health.
Being remote for extended periods of time can be challenging. I have a “game plan” for this – it includes:
- being able to deal with ambiguity
- being adaptable to change,
- being creative,
- developing the skills of cross-cultural communication,
- maintaining respect and integrity and a strong spiritual connection, and
always being open and willing to learn
Inspired by Dr. Harry Owen’s passion for service? Learn more about international volunteering from our experts in the field.