90°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Former Senator Mo Cowan speaks at Campus Center

Mo Cowan speaking on the 12th
Mo Cowan speaking on the 12th

At 9 am on March 12, former Senator Mo Cowan spoke in the Campus Center Ballroom as part of the McCormack Leadership Series, organized by the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Cowan talked about his life experiences and the lessons that he has learned during his career.
“[Never] let anyone stop you from contributing your intellect and sacrifices,” says Cowan, who had modest beginnings growing up in rural Yadkinville, North Carolina–between tobacco fields and lingering racial segregation.
He was the first from his high school to attend Duke University, graduating with a degree in sociology. Later, after leaving Northeastern University Law School with his Juris Doctor, he took a job with the Boston law firm Mintz-Levin working in civil litigation. In 2009, he accepted the position of Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Deval Patrick and then Chief of Staff.  
Patrick has been a mentor for Cowan over the years, following a legal event at Northeastern where Patrick was the keynote speaker. Cowan “cold-called” him: a young lawyer seeking advice over coffee. Patrick’s response was, “What are you doing right now?” During the talk in the Campus Center, Cowan had a relaxed demeanor and his humor elicited laughs from the students and faculty in attendance.
From February to July of 2013, Cowan was the Interim U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. He was Patrick’s personal choice to fill the void left by John Kerry, who had resigned to become Secretary of State. Cowan was Massachusetts’s 2nd African-American Senator, and the nation’s 8th overall. He was replaced by Ed Markey, who won a special election in July.
In office, he worked on “important issues that impacted real people every day throughout the Commonwealth,” something that he found rewarding. He forged friendships with members of Congress and throughout the talk stressed that “to be professionally successful, we must be personally successful.”
Cowan said that he was initially nervous about the interim senator position, but he was empowered by the members of Kerry’s staff that remained, and he emphasized how important “asking for help” is to success.
Cowan praised the “passion and dedication” of those in public service. He said that for every “bad story covered in the press, there are many good ones,” and that it is those two qualities that hold the government together.
Since leaving the Senate, Cowan has been a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Politics and rejoined Mitz-Levin as a Chief Operating Officer of ML Strategies. He has repeatedly said to the press that he has no plans to run for office.
He closed his talk in the ballroom with the following words, “In this great nation, there is nothing you cannot do, there is no one you cannot become — if you are committed and willing to work for it– and you are committed to seeking the help and guidance along the way. You too can live out your own American Dream, whatever that may be. Trust me, I am a living testament to that.”