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Pat Conroy told students at the University of South Carolina that they can become lifelong friends with their teachers.

"I revere the teachers of my life," the writer said this week at the university. School officials honored him for his achievements in literature.

He said his high-school English teacher made him believe that he could be a writer.

While Conroy was a student in Beaufort, his teacher Gene Norris introduced him to Thomas Wolfe's books. Norris even traveled with Conroy to Wolfe's birthplace in North Carolina, showing him rooms in the cottage that inspired scenes in Wolfe's books.

Conroy's novels include the best-selling "The Prince of Tides," which was made into a 1991 movie starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte.

His seventh book, "Our Losing Season," is due out later this year. It's based on his senior year at the Citadel.

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