Margaret Vaillancourt, 22, a new Radcliffe grad, Rhodes Scholar next fall and recipient of the first annual Bob Hope American Youth Award for Academic Excellence, spent nearly 10 years as a ward of the state of New Hampshire. When she was 5, her father deserted the family, and then two years later, after her mother suffered a nervous breakdown, Meg and three brothers and sisters were sent to the Manchester Children's Home. "The staff treated the kids as a job," she recalls, but the siblings kept each other going. So, she says, did her mother, who visited them weekly until her death when Meg was in seventh grade. "She loved us, but she just couldn't handle us." By then Meg had found her calling playing Peter Pan in a local YWCA production. Her brightness and theatrical talent helped win her a scholarship to St. Paul's prep school in Concord, N.H. and later to Radcliffe. There she was cast as Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice and studied with the visiting Polish Mime Troupe. After taking a year off to work for the environmental-consumer research group Inform, Meg dropped acting as a junior because of the course load and jobs she needed to supplement grants and loans. At Oxford she hopes to squeeze it in again while studying politics, philosophy and economics. Meg would like to combine drama with public service, explaining, "I have a debt to repay."
Jack Kellogg, 13, was once disqualified from an art competition; the skeptical judges thought the work too professional to have been done by someone so young. But this spring there was a special exhibition of his colorful paintings at the National Clown Convention in Chicago. "Clowns are special, different people," Kellogg explains, "and I love doing different things." One such thing was a collage which will be reproduced by Illinois Bell on several regional directory covers this year, including that of his own suburb, Tinley Park. "We thought it would be a waste of time," recalls his father, a Nabisco superintendent, when Jack asked for art lessons on his ninth birthday. "All we'd seen him draw were stick people with round faces." But the boy proved a natural. He won a $1,000 art scholarship and was invited to become the only nonadult member of Chicago's Town and Country Art League. A straight-A student steeped in the history of his field (Hieronymous Bosch speaks to him more than Henri Matisse), Kellogg locks himself in his basement to turn out landscapes, still lifes and record album covers. But his great obsession is still those clowns, even though/he admits, "I don't really like circuses."
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