What does computer science professor Dr. Ed Kovach have incommon with Chuck Norris?
More than you might think. Both vote conservative. Both are devout Christians (Norris an Evangelical and Kovach a convert to Catholicism). And both have nothing to fear in a dark alley. Well, at least not much.
Two and a half years ago, Kovach, along with his youngest children, began studying Chun Kuk Do Karate, the school of karate founded by Norris. Kovach was attracted to the mental discipline, as well as the fitness benefits.“
The kids are way above me when it comes to my belt,” Kovach admits. “But three years ago if anyone had attacked me, I would have gotten beaten up. Now I still might, but at least in theory, I would know what to do to defend myself.”
When he’s not working on his karate, Kovach busies himself baking bread (sourdough), keeping up with his Greek (one of his undergraduate minors), and brushing up on his Hungarian (which he describes as “dangerous at best”).
Kovach, who is a second generation has a passion for all things Hungarian. That passion has him and his family to the old country twice—once during 2001-2002 school year, when Kovach was on sabbatical, and time in 2004 and 2005, when Kovach received a prestigious award to teach and serve as a cultural ambassador in both occasions, he taught in the Computer Science Pázmány Péter, a 17th-century Catholic university dismantled by the Communists but reestablished in recent years.
“I left part of my heart there,” Kovach says of his grandparents’ native land. “Getting in touch with my roots and seeing what was mine by right of my blood was an amazing experience. I’d love to get back there again.
”For now though, Kovach is happy with reminders of Hungary that come his way, such as the recent gala commemorating Hungarian independence, which he attended at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
He’s also still happy teaching computer science to students. Kovach and his wife came to the University shortly after he completed his doctoral work in morphology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kovach had applied on a whim, thinking, “I don’t have a chance of getting it, but I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t apply.
”When the offer came, he credited it to Providence, a crediting he still thinks accurate.
“I don’t know of a better place to raise a Catholic family than Steubenville,” he says.
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