Alumni Spotlight - Howie and Owen Bargreen

Father and son share passion for EvCC

By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist

Howard Bargreen, president of Bargreen Coffee Company, has more in common with his son, Everett psychologist Owen Bargreen, than a love for a great cup of coffee. Both are proud alums of EvCC, where each began a venture toward success in their respective careers. “My EvCC psychology instructor far exceeded my expectations,” says Owen. “The education I received there served as a fantastic springboard for my later doctoral level studies.” Howard agrees that attending EvCC was a life-changing experience. The Everett-area business owner says, “My calculus professor gave me enough math smarts to help me get my MBA.” In this interview, Owen and Howard relate how EvCC has impacted their lives and current careers.

In honor of Howard and Dr. Owen Bargreen, Bargreen's Parks Student Union espresso stand is giving the first 100 customers with a discount code $1 off their drink, starting Oct. 18, 2013. Read this story to get the discount code.

How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision making?

Owen: I decided to take a class at EvCC due to my interest in psychology. Following my undergrad studies at Whitman College, I applied to doctoral level programs. I noticed that EvCC had a class that I had not taken at Whitman and I wanted to take the class and learn more about the field of developmental psychology. The psychology class was a fantastic experience as my professor, Dr. Jorge Conesa, exceeded many of my Whitman College psychology department professors. He was a gifted instructor and I remember his earnest and hard working approach, as well as his charm and positive demeanor. He was truly a pleasure to learn from.

Howard:  I chose Everett CC because I knew it was a good school and because of its proximity to home and work.

What did you do after you left (or graduated from) EvCC?

Owen: After I took the class in developmental psychology, I was accepted into a doctoral program in clinical psychology in San Diego. Following my completion of my doctorate in clinical psychology, I became a clinical psychologist in Washington. My private practice is in Everett and I specialize in therapy for adolescents and adults and psychological assessment (personality, cognitive and memory testing) for children, adolescents and adults. I am active in the state psychological association and have previously served as the early career psychologist chair. I am also an associate professor of psychology at Trinity Lutheran College and teach roughly one class per semester.

Howard: After I left EvCC, I attended the University of Washington, where I earned a BA and an MBA.

Tell me about your family: Where did you grow up, and did you have brothers or sisters?

Owen: I grew up in Everett, Washington and I have one sister who is 31 years old. While my sister resides in Park City, Utah, we converse regularly. She is expecting her first child, so this is a very exciting time for our family. Both of my parents reside in Everett and I see them more than once a week.

Howard: I grew up in a family of four children in Everett (one brother and two sisters).

Did your parents go to college and did they encourage you to attend college?

Owen: My parents both attained advanced degrees. My dad received an MBA from the University of Washington, while my mother completed a PhD from the University of California, Irvine. So attending college and working toward an advanced degree was important to my parents and was instilled in me when I was growing up.

Howard: My father attended the University of Washington, but just before he graduated, his father died and my Dad had to take over the family business. My mother graduated from Washington State University in music and became a music teacher.

When and where did you graduate from high school?

Owen: I graduated from Everett High School in 1998.

Howard: I graduated from Everett High School in 1962.

Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? How?

Owen: I think that taking that EvCC course continued my interest in psychology and also played a role in being accepted into a doctoral program in psychology.

Howard: Yes, certainly my time at EvCC helped me, especially the math and speech classes.

Did you ever envision your current career while in college?

Owen: I considered many career options, but I became interested in psychology roughly halfway through my tenure at Whitman College. By the time I took my class at Everett Community College, I was certain that I would pursue a career in clinical psychology.

Howard: Yes, I envisioned my current career while in college.

What courses or activities did you find to be most valuable and how did they help prepare you for your professional career or success in life?

Owen: The class that I took in developmental psychology served as a helpful template in preparing for graduate studies in psychology.

Howard: The math and speech classes helped my speaking skills and also helped prepare me for later MBA studies. 

Was there anyone during your time at EvCC who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.

Owen: My developmental psychology professor, Dr. Jorge Conesa, was a gifted orator. He was engaging and insightful in his lectures. I not only learned about the coursework from him, but I learned about teaching styles and how to be a better orator.

Any moments that stood out as especially memorable while at EvCC?

Howard: One memorable moment was preparing for the big math test, which was quite a challenge. Other memorable aspects were meeting many friends, including Randy Finley (in speech class), who became a lifelong friend.

What is your lasting impression of EvCC?

Owen: My developmental psychology class left a very positive lasting impression.

Howard: My lasting impression of EvCC is of a wonderful community asset, and a good place to learn.

What helped you stay motivated, both in school, and in your career?

Owen: I have always been a motivated individual. I was an athlete growing up and played college tennis. Pushing myself to achieve is something that I have aspired to do consistently since high school, whether it was on the tennis court or in the classroom.

Howard: My motivation comes from a desire to do a good job, to help others, to be an honest and hard-working boss, and to earn a good living for my family.

Please tell me about your current position or career.

Owen: I am currently a clinical psychologist and also serve as an associate professor of psychology at Trinity Lutheran College. I teach roughly one class each semester and am looking forward to teaching my next class this fall (2013) in cognitive assessment. My practice in clinical psychology focuses on both therapy and assessment. I see adolescents and adults for therapy and I do psychological evaluations for children, adolescents and adults. I also have recently completed a book titled, “Starting a Successful Clinical Practice in Psychology and Counseling.” The book focuses on the business side of psychology and carries the premise that you can do meaningful work in clinical psychology and still be financially successful. The text will be published this fall and I look forward to presenting on the book at conferences in the near future.

Howard: My current position is third-generation owner/operator of Bargreen Coffee Company and manager of company properties.

What do/did you find rewarding about it?

Owen: Probably the most rewarding part of being a clinical psychologist is helping guide people to make positive changes in their lives. Whether individuals want to improve their relationships or work on issues like anger or depression, seeing the change in them as they work through the issues in therapy is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Howard:  I enjoy being with the customers and employees, and bringing the family business forward into the 21st century. What do/did you find most challenging?

Owen: One of the most challenging things is working with people who struggle with change. Change is difficult for many people, but some people tend to adapt better than others.

Howard: Keeping a business going in a difficult economy is a major challenge, and dealing with government regulations.

Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to do it all over again?

Owen: No.

Howard: Of course I would do things differently, with the benefit of hindsight! I would make quicker decisions and not spend as much time weighing the pros and cons while opportunities could slip by.

What were your keys to success?

Owen: I think that hard work and motivation are helpful for reaching goals. Setting tangible and attainable goals is also important.

Howard: My keys to success are hard work, and thinking about how the employees and customers see the business-customer relationship.

What words of advice would you give to current EvCC students?

Owen: I would encourage those who attend EvCC to aspire to complete not only their associate’s degree, but their bachelor’s degree or graduate work. As the job markets have been changing, it becomes more and more difficult to find a good paying and satisfying job without higher education.

Howard:  I would advise students to take college seriously, as training for real life, and to learn at least one thing very well--a skill that will last for awhile and will be congenial with your strengths.

From this vantage point in life, what do you care about the most?

Owen: I care about my friends and family the most. They have helped me achieve my goals in becoming both a professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist.

Howard: I care most about my family and my employees, as well as the customers, and the community where we live.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Howard:  I would encourage everyone to drink more coffee! It is helpful to keep you alert while studying and while taking examinations. I also hope the students realize how lucky they are to be in a place like EvCC where they get a fabulous return on their expenditures for education.

Discount code: Drink more coffee.