May 18-24, 2001
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IN THIS ISSUE
Waters' mission runs deep
Two graduates honored for their service to humanity
Student aids the homeless

Mellon winner redefines "Jim Crow" era

Pre-med student shares his passion for music
Fast-track grad driven to help his family
Student leads effort to install Braille on Lawn room doors
Creative recycling: Students convert crate into studio
Lawson lives richly
Can you go home again? Issues facing international students
Education delayed but not denied
Weaver finds election laws discriminatory
Quilter gets A+
Students to go abroad on Fulbright scholarships
Weddle will research Peruvian women
Graduate rich in lessons learned
Anthony defender of public good
Affinnih plays her cards strategically
After earning degree in two years, graduate going for two more
Student develops new sign language system
Student trio pushes for late-night joe
Sarah Jane Dinan
Stephanie Gross
Sarah Jane Dinan sews a baby quilt.

Quilter gets A+

By Dan Heuchert

When you think “quilting,” a few stereotypes come to mind: grandmotherly types Sgathered in a rural church hall, sewing and chatting.

Meet Sarah Jane Dinan, president of the U.Va. Quilting Club and stereotype-buster. A brilliant student with a top-1-percent class ranking and 10 A-pluses, she ais pursuing a dual degree in French and government and foreign affairs.

Dinan started sewing at age 7, when she “learned from little old ladies at the Woodlawn Plantation,” an estate near her Alexandria home that offered lessons. She sewed and quilted even as she built a stellar academic record at Georgetown Visitation School in Washington.

“It is something concrete I get to do after school work,” she said. “It’s so nice to sit down for two hours and make a skirt — then it’s done, and I can wear it.”

Needle and thread were mostly a solo pursuit until her third year at U.Va., when she discovered students with similar interests, including club founder April Lowenthal, who graduated in 2000.

“I was really surprised that there was anyone interested in doing that here,” she said. “College-age girls are not known for that.”

They formed the U.Va. Quilting Club, which then numbered about 15, gathering at members’ apartments and producing quilts for residents of Emmaus with Child, a local Christian maternity home for pregnant women in crisis.

Dinan, who started the U.Va. Quilting Club, is
“the best student that I have known in 12 years
of teaching.”

Allen Lynch
Associate professor of
government and foreign affairs

Dinan knit together a regular group of quilters for weekly sessions through the fall. Academic pressures have cut into quilting time in the spring, but club members are working to finish one last quilt for Emmaus before graduation, Dinan said.

She works her quilting around her studies, which she pursues with an unusual passion, according to her adviser, Allen Lynch, an associate professor of government and foreign affairs and director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies.

“I have no hesitation in confirming that Sarah Dinan is the best student that I have known in 12 years of teaching” at U.Va., Columbia College and New York University, he said.

She is the last of an impressive “Dinan dynasty” at the University. Two of her five brothers and sisters preceded her on Grounds; oldest brother John received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at U.Va. and is now on the faculty at Wake Forest.

After a trip to Paris, Dinan will enroll in a master’s program in international affairs, focusing on Russia, at the University of Chicago, where she has a full-tuition fellowship.

She will also continue sewing.

“I love to sew everything. I like to do things that are useful — not like needlepoint that just hangs on the wall,” she said.

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