Office of the Chancellor

Jan. 12 - Erin Gruwell ’91 and Julia Lupton (Alumni Series)

Section 1

Erin Gruwell ’91 and Julia Lupton

In 1994, Erin Gruwell began teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Like many first year teachers, Erin was assigned the unmotivated, unnoticed and “unteachable” students. Erin strongly believed that education could overcome even the worst kinds of adversity and was determined that her 150 “at-risk” students should receive the same opportunities as everyone else. Four years later all 150 students, dubbed the Freedom Writers, graduated from high school. Her story inspired the film, The Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey. Gruwell earned her bachelor's degree from UCI in 1991 and was honored with a UCI Alumni Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 for her inspiring, educational activism. She is currently an active board member of the UCI Alumni Association.

Julia Lupton is professor of English and an award-winning teacher who has taught at UCI since 1989. She is the faculty director of Illuminations, the Chancellor’s Arts & Culture Initiative. In 2013-14, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her book project, Shakespeare Dwelling: Habitation, Hospitality, Design. She is a dramaturg for the New Swan Shakespeare Festival and an avid supporter of arts across the curriculum. She is the founding director of Humanities Out There, which promotes service learning for humanities majors. She writes about DIY design with her twin sister, Ellen.