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Coventry Royster Cowens Receives Distinguished Alumni Award

Cowens one of eight 2015 alumni award winners.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music News Release, 5-22-2015

Mankato, Minn. – Coventry Royster Cowens of Minneapolis recently received the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Cowens, currently the assistant director for Multicultural and International Programs and Services at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., is one of eight 2015 alumni award winners. She was honored at an April 24 ceremony hosted by the Minnesota State Mankato Alumni Association.
Humanitarian Awards go to Minnesota State Mankato graduates whose lives exemplify service to humankind, and who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to humanitarian causes.

Leaving the Twin Cities to come to college in Mankato was a bigger journey for Coventry Cowens than just driving 90 miles down the road. Traveling outside of her comfort zone during the mid-1960s, when people were wary of others and their opinions about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, was not easy for a young woman just out of high school; it was even more difficult for a young African-American woman.

But in Mankato, Coventry not only made many new friends—many of whom she is still very close to—but she learned things that would shape her career path and her life. Whether it was sandbagging during a flood in Mankato or taking a volunteer trip to Mexico City, seeing the world outside of her neighborhood destroyed a lot of stereotypes and made her want to help provide for others.
In her current position at St. Catherine University Cowens works with students of color to improve retention at the college level.

Coventry also volunteers with various organizations and causes. She’s a founding member of the Minnesota African American Museum and the program director and gala coordinator for LTL International Leadership Institute. She also works with women’s advocate programs to bring resources and supplies to South America, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, the Caribbean and the United States. One shipment to Kenya included a donated firetruck and ambulance.

“We work with people to bring them resources so they can do the things they do,” she said. “We get on paths, we live, we fail and we succeed on them but eventually find what is right for ourselves and we go forward with it. That makes you a better human being inside.”

Those who want more information about the April 24 awards event may go to or call (507) 389-3235.
Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,376 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions. 

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