a tribute from Patrice Saville Jenkins

“enrich 1.To make rich, or richer. 2. To make fuller, more meaningful, or more rewarding.”

I met Professor J. Herman Blake in the fall of 1968 on the UCSC campus. I was enrolled in Crown as a science major. I was straight from an all-girls Catholic high school. Most of my teachers were nuns. I heard Herman speak at some forum on campus. I was shocked to hear a “professor” speak about social injustice and inequality. And he was so forceful and intimidating in his lecture! I was afraid of him. But when I met Herman, he spoke to me like an older brother. He was “in charge”, but he was caring and thoughtful.

I had the opportunity to work with other students off campus in the Cowell Extra Mural Program at the North Richmond Education Center Project. Under Herman’s leadership, we developed a program that tutored adults for the GED exam in the morning, and tutored and mentored students in an after-school program. Herman’s encouragement and energy was contagious. He lead us to believe that we could accomplish many things. Also, during the two quarters I was working on the North Richmond Project, I lived with Herman’s mother-in-law in Berkeley. I had a chance to meet his family, also. Herman had an endless source of resources. He taught us how to “network” before it became popular.

As I was writing this, I was thinking “who is Herman to me?” He has been a mentor to me and so many people. I looked up the definition of the word “enrich”. Herman enriched our college education.

I want to thank Herman for enriching so many lives. He encouraged us to be leaders and thinkers. He touched our hearts by giving us an opportunity to learn and practice compassion. We, in turn have continued this legacy in our own lives…working in communities at home and abroad.

Mentors are people who become a part of your life, your career or your education. They teach you. They model good behavior. They push you, nudge you, encourage you to be better, smarter, so that your life is more meaningful and more rewarding.

Herman…Thank you for being our mentor, our educator and our friend. May God bless you always!

Patrice Saville Jenkins
Crown 1972