For the most part, people are creatures of habit. We like to wake up at the same time every day, go to the same places we love over and over, and eat in consistent intervals. Jaclin Owen likes consistency just as much as the next person, but she’s not afraid to venture outside of her comfort zone and break past her limits. Her story demonstrates that sometimes the best thing a person can do in life is dive into the unknown.
Owen grew up in Hobart and graduated from Wheeler High School. She got pregnant during her senior year of high school and was ready to be a mom, but her daughter passed away when she was only one year old. Owen struggled for a while but eventually decided to go to college and make a difference in the world.
Owen headed off to Indiana University Northwest to study criminal justice. She had grown up seeing many people struggle due to the justice system and felt it needed improving. She hoped that, by studying criminal justice, she could help make new policies that would fix the injustices of the legal system.
After graduating, Owen became a paralegal and got recruited for the TV show “60 Days In.” During this experience, she went undercover in a maximum-security jail to see for herself how inmates are treated in America.
“It was a culture shock for me. I'm someone that follows the laws and I’ve always been scared of being in a predicament like that, so signing up and choosing to do that, let alone in a jail that was extremely rough, was a lot. I wouldn't change it for the world. It’s an experience that I hold close to my heart. It really helped my career, and it helped me understand what goes on outside of my little bubble in Hobart,” said Owen.
After her time on “60 Days In,” Owen realized that she wanted to take some time for herself and learn more about who she is. She applied for the TV show “Naked and Afraid,” got accepted, started training, and when the time came, flew for the first time internationally to South Africa.
Owen was by no means a survivalist—she’s always been super girly and went into her “Naked and Afraid” challenge with a full pedicure and manicure. She knew what she was up for, though, and was completely up to the challenge. She wanted to push herself like never before.
“I'm super girly. I don’t like bugs. I don't like to be dirty, but why not push those boundaries of who we are and get past those barriers? I'm not going to be your traditional survivalist, but I'm a survivor in all aspects of life that I've been through,” said Owen.
During her challenge, Owen faced many tough situations, but she also got to experience all kinds of amazing things. She was deeply touched by the wildlife, especially the rhinos and lions. Her interactions with the animals are something she’ll always remember.
“Rhinos are extremely at risk from poachers—they're not flourishing in South Africa like they used to. Being able to have that hands-on experience with an animal that may not be here in 50 to 100 years is extremely special,” said Owen.
Owen’s challenge also taught her a lot about herself and her passions. When she went into the challenge needing a break from work, she never thought she’d come back feeling empowered to dive even further into criminal justice.
“When I landed, everybody kept asking me if I was Native American, which I am. Their questions really made me realize that I need to get more in touch with my native side. I've always just appreciated being an American and never got down to the roots. After doing some research, I really wanted to dive past the surface level and do something for Indigenous communities,” said Owen.
Shortly after getting home, Owen joined the campaign “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women” to help bring awareness to the injustices Native American women face in America.
Of course, Owen’s plans to make the world a better place won’t stop anytime soon. Eventually, Owen would like to find a way to work with kids and give them the skills they need to improve the future of our society.
“I want to work with them and teach them how important it is to know certain skills. You never know what life entails, and I feel nowadays that children are so stuck on technology and get all these things handed to them. I would love to show them survival techniques and make them think. The youth is super important, and if we want to see change happen, we have to start with them,” said Owen.
Owen knows firsthand how difficult life can be, but she encourages everyone facing tough times to take a step back and understand that life goes on and eventually things will work out. Struggle in life is inevitable, but it is not permanent.
“Time is always on our side. No matter how hard a situation is in your life, the clock keeps going, and as time goes on, so does the healing. Anytime that I'm in a hard predicament I just remind myself that the clock is still going, and as long as it's still going, I'm alive and I'm going to heal from the situation I'm in,” said Owen.
Many people have helped Owen get where she is today, but she’s extremely grateful for the confidence her great-grandma has given her.
“She’s always been a big supporter, and I think that her view of me and her perception of me is what makes me even more powerful,” said Owen.
Owen’s also incredibly grateful for her kids. Having to explain to her kids the dangers of “Naked and Afraid” was difficult for Owen, but from the very beginning, they were her biggest cheerleaders. She couldn’t have done the challenge without them.
“I am so thankful for my children. Not only have they made me mentally strong, but they've given me the confidence that I need to face challenges in my life. They're my little hype men,” said Owen.