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Student awarded University's highest academic honor (Released 3/12/97)

by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Heidi Avila of New Haven, a junior at the University of Connecticut majoring in political science, has been named a University Scholar, the highest academic honor the University bestows on undergraduate students.

Once selected, a University Scholar is allowed to pursue an academic program tailored to his or her unique intellectual interests and abilities. Avila's University Scholar project is titled "The Origins and Demise of Welfare in America," integrating four areas of study: sociology, history, political science, and family studies.

Avila grew up in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven and graduated from Wilbur Cross High School. A single mother on welfare, Avila was homeless for two years. She now works as a certified nurse's aide while a full-time student at UConn. This semester she is a legislative intern with state Reps. Jack Thompson and Annette Carter.

After graduating, she hopes to pursue a law degree.