Makes Lasting Impression at UNCP
By Andrea Vukcevic
and charm, Erin Brockovich captivated an audience of 1,200 Thursday
at the Givens Performing Arts Center on the campus of The University
of North Carolina at Pembroke.
She was the first
guest of the university's 2001-2002 Distinguished
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The audience hushed
when Brockovich emerged from the velvet curtain, dressed in her signature
black bustier, black dress pants and excessively tall, stiletto heels.
"My name is
Erin Brockovich. The real Erin Brockovich."
and powerful applause followed.
a household name when Julia Roberts portrayed her true story in the
blockbuster movie bearing her name. Brockovich was a single mom whose
investigation of Pacific Gas and Electric's willful contamination of
ground water in Hinkley, Calif., resulted in the largest legal settlement
in U.S. history - $333 million.
High amounts of
hexavalent chromium in the drinking water was found to be the cause
of various forms of cancer, birth defects and illnesses in Hinkley residents.
At 20-24 parts per million, the readings were at least 400 times the
acceptable level of 0.05.
In the movie, Brockovich's
(Roberts) provocative attire landed her a job. "In reality, my
skirts are shorter than Julia's."
by Julia Roberts in an Academy Award winning performance made a positive
impact on her life.
"It still seems
very surreal to me," she said. "Julia did a very good job."
the residents of Hinkley with teaching her the importance of dignity
and respect, and she warned students in the audience that their personal
ethics would be compromised when they enter the work force.
right thing isn't always the popular thing," Brockovich said. "Seek
truth, never compromise integrity and be true to yourself."
She is currently
director of environmental research for the Masry and Vititoe law firm
in Westlake, Calif. Brockovich has also written a motivational book
that is to be published by McGraw-Hill in November.
the crowd with personal reflections and lessons she learned from her
most influential role models, her parents. Her mother's emphasis on
"stick-to- itiveness" and father's "tough sh**"
and "you have to" attitude were hard to accept but helped
her overcome many obstacles.
"dyslexic with an attitude" stumbled through poverty, two
failed marriages, a car accident and raising three children on her own.
and determination got me through," she said. "I believe in
the power of one. There is power in the individual, there is power in
us as human beings."
in the Distinguished Speaker Series include
Ralph Nader (Oct. 30), Edward James Olmos (Nov. 20), Maya Angelou (Feb.26)
and Sherman Alexie (Apr. 2).
Vukcevic is a junior
and journalism major at UNCP.
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