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A LESSON LEARNED

Barbara Bush has a message for young women: Do as I say, not as I do.

While no one batted an eye when she gave up her early dream of becoming a nurse and left Smith College in 1944 to marry the future president, Mrs. Bush told Columbia College students that things are different now.

"Don't do what I did. Stay in school," she said. "Study hard, work hard, play hard, too."

"Fifty-three years ago, it was a different time, a different era," Mrs. Bush said at the dedication Wednesday of the new $7.5 million Barbara Bush Center for Science and Technology at the women's college.

She called the honor the "most flattering, exciting thing I could possibly imagine" and suggested she was undeserving of it because she did not graduate from Smith.

Nonetheless, she said, she has become "a computer junkie."

"I dabble in Microsoft, check my e-mail and even surf on the Net occasionally," Mrs. Bush joked, adding that she is "afraid to go into the chat room."

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