By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Sometimes the concept of “community” gets diluted by overuse. This month we celebrate three alumnae from the same Rams family who, in very different ways, put meaning back into that word.
The family matriarch is Dr. Blanche Hughes (M.Ed., ’84; Ph.D., ’95), Colorado State University’s vice president for student affairs. Her daughter, Dana (B.A., ’98), is the Africa regional editor for communications at UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency; she is stationed in Nairobi, Kenya. Her daughter, Allison (B.S.,’09), is the assistant director for Goddard School, a preschool in Fort Collins.
Blanche grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and received her bachelor’s degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where she was a point guard on the women’s basketball team. She earned a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education and a doctorate in sociology from CSU. She has developed community at the University in many ways. While serving as director of Black Student Services, she created a home away from home for African American students. She later served as assistant vice president of Students Affairs, and in 2006 became vice president. The Student Affairs division includes a large number of units, ranging from Housing and Dining Services to Athletic Academic/Student Services and from the Lory Student Center to the CSU Health Network. The large number of disparate units are linked by a common mission to help students and staff be successful and to thrive. Despite her extraordinary responsibilities, Blanche always makes time for someone who needs advice, a sympathetic ear, or a helping hand.
Dana studied theatre at CSU and was in the President’s Leadership Program. She began her professional journey in New York, pursing an acting career. Later, she worked at the Ford Foundation and earned her master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Columbia University, which led to a position at ABC News as digital reporter for the continent of Africa. The network then transferred her to Washington, D.C., where she covered the State Department and national security. When UNHCR recruited her as communication director, she returned to Nairobi. Her communication skills have brought awareness and understanding to wide audiences throughout her career. By focusing public and media attention on displacement crises in Africa in her UNHCR role, she has created compassion and support for refugee communities.
Allison’s major at CSU was human development and family studies, with an emphasis in early childhood. She too was in the President’s Leadership Program and was a member of the first class of Presidential Ambassadors. She was a preschool teacher in North Carolina and Fort Collins, and was the director of a preschool center in Denver prior to her present position. She does outstanding work helping preschool children develop into confident learners by creating a nurturing environment in which they can develop individually as well as learn to be part of and to value community.
Together, these three women make a difference in our world, whether they are developing habits of learning and living in children that will sustain them throughout their lives, guiding college students toward careers and lives of significance, or helping protect and sustain the most fragile among us. Each member of this mother/daughter trio is a stalwart Ram and a truly wonderful human being.