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  October 6, 2003

Graduate Student, Undergraduate Honored
As This Year's Gant Scholars

Two students from diverse cultures, with different career goals, have a thing or two in common. Both are considered outstanding students,

and share the kind and considerate traits of the late Edward V. Gant, a former University provost and acting president.

That's why graduate student Alain Lescart, a native of France, and Raynaldo Scarlett, a senior born and raised in Jamaica, have been named the 2003 Edward V. Gant Scholarship recipients. The $1,500 award, presented during a ceremony October 29, recognizes academic excellence, professional potential, dedicated service, and exemplary integrity.

Born on the French Riviera, Lescart graduated from the Academy of Versailles and earned master's degrees in theology and therapy from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass. He headed to UConn to pursue a graduate degree in French literature, but his journey here included humanitarian stops in Haiti and India, where he worked with the poor. For three years in Haiti, Lescart trained young adults to become high school teachers.

He is now working on his doctoral dissertation on the representation of poor worker women in 19th-century French literature and in the novels of British author Charlotte Brontë.

"In Villette and her associated novel The Professor, Brontë analyzes the hazards of women's relationships with men by flirting with the popular French concept of 'grisette' or 'coquette' without completely crossing the line to a 'lorette,' a fallen woman or prostitute," says Lescart. "Most Bronte scholars seem to have overlooked the importance of this concept in her work."

According to Lescart, a close examination of the novels suggests that Brontë "studied in detail the stereotyped representation of French women in popular French novels and journalism to highlight the dangers presented by women on the road, such as her heroine Lucy Snowe."

In his own short play performed at UConn three years ago, Lescart followed the style of Samuel Beckett's Theater of Absurdity. Lescart's skit, called "Allons-Y" or "Let's Go," involved two people walking across a desert carrying a suitcase. The two stop, as one asks exactly where they're headed. The other encourages the first to continue without thinking.

"At the end, the two decide to enjoy the place where they are at that precise moment, discovering the present moment and its enchantments," says Lescart.

Adds Lescart, "My interest is in French comparative literature, but my interest is also in human life."

Gant recipient Scarlett is a senior majoring in chemical engineering who came to the United States in 1990 at the age of eight.

He attended elementary and middle school in Hartford, returning to Jamaica for high school.

Scarlett chose UConn because of its reputation and proximity to his family in Hartford.

"UConn has a great atmosphere," he says.

Scarlett is not only an accomplished scholar but, as a voluntary tutor to chemical engineering peers, he has sent other students in the right direction.

"I've given out some advice on studying and classes to take," he says.

He is a member of the Honors Program and the National Society of Black Engineers, and is president of Omega Chi Epsilon, the Chemical Engineering Honors Society. He is also on the student advisory board for the chemical engineering department, helping shape the structure of future courses.

Through his church, Scarlett also finds time for community service in the Hartford area.

During the summer of 2002, Scarlett focused his chemical engineering research on solvent design through molecular modeling.

"My research focused on the design of new and alternative compounds with desired properties for chemical processes using computer-aided tools," says Scarlett.

One of the key objectives in designing the alternative compounds, he says, was to replace toxic or environmentally malignant compounds.

Patrick Mather, assistant professor of chemical engineering and Scarlett's academic advisor, says the "sky is the limit for Raynaldo.

"I've been impressed with his outstanding academic abilities and proven performance in coursework," he adds. "In the classroom, he is looked up to as a model student."