My Tribute to Herman Blake – Kate (Kathy Hubay) Canavan

Herman Blake changed my life, although I certainly did not understand the extent of that change at the time.  To be fair, I am only one of hundreds of students and young people Herman has touched over the years, but my participation in his Cowell College Extramural Program set me off in new directions and clearly affected choices I made later in life.  My four months in Beaufort, South Carolina, living with a family and working at the Neighborhood Youth Corps exposed me for the first time to a black community; to the beauty, history, and problems of the South; and because there were two Marine Corps Bases near Beaufort, to the commitment and honor of the United States military at a time when my fellow students at UCSC were protesting the war in Viet Nam.  I learned about the importance of diversity in our country and the usefulness of understanding different perspectives on everything.

Largely because of the Extramural Program, I decided to travel after graduation, and set off for Europe and eventually Africa.  Following eight months in then Upper Volta, now Bourkina Fasso, I joined the Peace Corps, and spent nearly three years in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The self-confidence I gained as a Peace Corps Volunteer helped me pass the Foreign Service exam, and I joined the State Department in 1976.  35 years later, I retired, having served approximately half my career overseas.  I can’t think of anything I would rather have done all those years.  I was appointed as an Ambassador twice (to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of Botswana) and was Director of the Foreign Service Institute training State Department employees for four years for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

I don’t believe any of this would have happened had I not participated in Herman Blake’s Extramural Program.  In fact, my husband and I moved to Saint Helena Island, 14 miles from Beaufort, a year and a half ago.  We are exceedingly happy here and not a day goes by that I do not think about my experiences during the Spring of 1970.  I realize how fortunate I was to have met Herman and participated in his program.  Thank you, Herman.

Kate (Kathy Hubay) Canavan, Cowell ‘71

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