Cynthia Owens BS ’80
As the Lewis & Clark overseas study program celebrates its 50th year, six alumni reflect on their life-changing journeys. Learn more about Cynthia Owens BS ’80 below and then browse other alumni stories.
Overseas Program: Israel, 1980
Currently: Journalist Turned Business Consultant, Singapore
“American journalism is uniquely about presenting all sides of an issue,” says Cynthia Owens. “Getting to experience the situation in the Middle East from multiple perspectives was profoundly instructional.”
It showed me that no matter how much we think we know about a place, there is so much more that we don’t know.
On the Israel program in 1980, the aspiring journalist and four other Lewis & Clark seniors had the fascinating opportunity to live and interact with people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. “We met West Bank mayors, who told us what it was like to live under Israeli occupation, and we lived with families in Tel Aviv, who told us about their everyday struggles living in Israel,” says Cynthia. “It showed me that no matter how much we think we know about a place, there is so much more that we don’t know. It was fascinating to see how much deeper the story went.”
Cynthia credits program leader Richard Rohrbaugh, Wright Professor Emeritus of Christian Studies, with cultivating some of her most valued skills as a journalist. “No matter what subject came up,” says Cynthia, “he knew how to ask questions that would make us see it from one side, and then another side, and then another. The focus of the trip turned out to be learning how to ask questions and to be curious about what was going on around us. Those instincts, shaped in Israel, made a big difference for me throughout my career.”
The overseas program not only launched my career—it launched my friendships for a lifetime.
Cynthia completed graduate school at Northwestern University in Chicago and spent the next 20 years in journalism, mostly as a foreign correspondent. She worked for Knight-Ridder, the Wall Street Journal, and ABC News, ultimately becoming senior vice president for news and programming at CNBC Asia.
Now in a new chapter of her life, Cynthia has transitioned to consulting. Her company, Organisation Solutions, helps Asian-bound U.S. businesses adjust to new cultures and manage long-distance teams in Asia. Currently based in Singapore, she will be moving the business, and her family, back to Portland soon. She and classmate Gideon Hughes BA ’82, who forged a lasting friendship on the Israel program, are happily making plans to join their families together. “The overseas program not only launched my career—it launched my friendships for a lifetime,” says Cynthia. “I was incredibly lucky to have had that experience.”
Read about how other alumni were influenced by their overseas experiences:
Overseas Program: India, 2001
Overseas Program: London, 1992
Overseas Program: Denmark/Greenland, 1983
Overseas Program: Japan, 1962
Overseas Program: East Africa, 1998