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  April 9, 2001

Bring the Intellectual into Everyday Life,
Grealey Tells Scholars

Author Lucy Grealy read from her works and discussed her experiences with television talk shows during her keynote address at the eighth annual Scholars Day ceremony at Jorgensen Auditorium Tuesday.

"We should strive to bring the intellectual into everyday life," Grealy said to more than 1,200 high-achieving students who were honored for their outstanding work. Parents, friends and faculty, seated at tables arranged cabaret-style, joined the celebration.

Grealy, who suffered a rare disfiguring cancer of the jaw when she was nine, wrote her memoir Autobiography of a Face in 1995. She had years of chemotherapy and radiation and more than 30 reconstructive surgeries. The book recounts her physical and emotional experiences during years of sickness and recovery.

She discussed her appearances on television following the publication of her memoir. While waiting to appear as a surprise guest on a daytime talk show about people who triumphed over "horrendous physical suffering," she said, "I'm sitting there and having all these feelings - What am I doing here? Why am I participating in this? Why am I allowing my life to be turned into entertainment?"

Grealy says the media wanted to turn her life into a 'made for TV' moment.

"One of the things I noticed about my tale of horrendous suffering was not how much people responded to my storytelling, but how the media wanted my story to mean beauty was only something that came from within," Grealy said. "I was really taken aback by this whole process ... trying to force my whole life story into a meaning that was a truism.

"I grew up spending a lot of time trying to find my identity and my true sense of self. I remember the very first time I ever thought about being on TV was when I was quite young and saw footage of the Beatles in Shea Stadium, she said. "I remember as a child wondering what it would feel like to be seen or loved by so many people.

"I'm still trying to find exactly the perfect words that would explain to all of us how perfect we already are," she said.

Thirty-three students were recognized for their participation in the University Scholars program, the most competitive and prestigious academic program available to students at the University. The program enables highly motivated students to pursue unusually ambitious and personally important programs of study, and participants are candidates for the highest academic honor bestowed upon undergraduates at graduation.

The ceremony also honored 63 students who have been named Babbidge Scholars for achieving a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during the spring and fall semesters of 2000. The scholars are named after the late Homer D. Babbidge Jr., UConn's president from 1962-1972.

The University also recognized 1,193 students as New England Scholars. These students have maintained a grade-point average of at least 3.5 during the spring and fall semesters of 2000.

The 2000-2001 Teaching Fellow, Nina Rovinelli Heller, associate professor of social work, was also honored. Selected by the Institute for Teaching and Learning, Teaching Fellows are chosen for excellence in instruction and dedication to the teaching profession.

Sherry Fisher

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