Thursday, December 27, 2007

News Update: Bhutto Assasinated

I caught this on Yahoo this morning and was surprised, even though it has been something I've worried about for some time.

Bhutto, the opposition in Pakistan to Musharraf, was assasinated. Since this woman had left the country the vicious hatred towards her was alarming, and I feared that with her return to the country it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to attack her.

It's one of those times when you feel incredibly fortunate to live in a country that thrives on free speech.


The story can be found here

I want more information!

Where can I find out more about the candidates, presidential or otherwise?

I found many, so check them out!

Official websites of candidates:

www.barackobama.com/

www.johnedwards.com

www.hillaryclinton.com

www.mittromney.com/

www.johnmccain.com/

www.joinrudy2008.com/

www.dennis4president.com/

www.chrisdodd.com/

www.joebiden.com/

www.mikehuckabee.com/

www.fred08.com

Curious about someone or their voting record?

Check out this site:

http://www.vote-smart.org/

Candidate Profile: Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

Experience:

Time in the White House as the first lady, Senate work

Bonus points: Clinton attended a woman’s college, Wellesley.

Positions:

Health care: Clinton proposed a health care initiative that later failed, although she played an important role in developing the State Children’s Health Care Program. Clinton has played a continuous important role in the development of health care initiatives from her time as first lady through her Senate career.

Economy: Wants increased support for social programs and does not supporting cutting taxes that benefit only the well-off.

Environment: Clinton does not support drilling in ANWR or the Bush administrations energy program.

Foreclosures: Clinton recently called for a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures (pay attention, Midwestern readers: this increasing foreclosure rate among Michigan and Ohio is expected to continue)

Internvention: Clinton has supported the times in which the US has interevened in foreign conflict and is known for criticizing delayed reactions (Bosnia) and lack of involvement (Rwanda).

Immigration: Clinton at one time supported the drivers license plan that Spitzer proposed, although she changed her mind after Spitzer withdrew the plan.

Iraq: Although overall, like many Democratic candidates, she agrees we need to get out, she also feels that we have important interests in the area and that now is not the time to leave.

Abortion: She doesn’t believe it should be illegal, although she personally doesn’t support it.

Gay marriage/issues: Doesn’t support the federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, and she doesn’t think “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is working.

My thoughts: Clinton has experience- and I give her two thumbs up for her healthcare efforts and plans. The problem is that she’s too polarizing- you either love her or you hate her. I don’t think it’s necessarily that she’s a woman, but rather that she’s “Hilary Clinton” and that name carries around a lot of opinions with it. I think Americans are divided, and that if she were to win the Democratic nomination, the Democratic party will experience extreme challenges in this election.

Presidential Candidate Profile: John McCain

Republican candidate

(If I had to support a Republican, it’d be McCain)

Previous experience:

Naval aviator, experience in the Vietnam War, House of Representatives and later Senate, success in campaign finance reform, and contended with GWB for the Republican nomination the last time around.

Positions:

Iraq: McCain has supported Bush through most of his policy while in office, although he typically pushes for increase of support within the US to keep the war going.

Iran: He would consider use of the military with Iran if the situation escalates.

Torture: A former POW, McCain is especially sensitive to matters of torture and has warned in the past that future US POW’s will suffer due to America’s current foreign policy.

Economy: McCain prefers reducing deficit spending to tax cutting (bonus points!)

The Environment: He wavers on this issue- at times he is particularly strong in one direction, such as when he opposed drilling in ANWR, but at other times he has supported Bush’s “environmental efforts”. McCain also favors increased nuclear energy resources as opposed to reliance on oil.

Gay marriage: McCain has said in the past that he believes each state should be able to decide this. He personally supports bans on gay marriage and the continued use of “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” in the military.

Abortion: McCain is pro-life, although he would not support a repeal of Roe v. Wade

Stem cells: He supports research here.

Immigration: McCain supports and has helped created policies that allow illegal aliens to become citizens.

And now, for my opinion:

I think McCain is one of the few Republican candidates who can be willing to listen to both sides. He’s had a lot of experience working across the aisle and has shown that once he commits himself to an issue or initiative, he will work extremely hard to make it a success. I really admire that he supports reducing the deficit instead of cutting taxes. For me, McCain is the strong “foreign policy” candidate among the Republicans, but I think his shortfall is his lack of vision on domestic problems. Although it is certainly important to address the international concerns (Iraq, the environment, etc) I think it should be done in a framework that address the many domestic problems of our country (middle class poverty, health care, a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, a stagnating economy, an evolving job market, etc). If McCain can show he’s committed to America’s problems first, I think he’ll achieve more success.

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick post to say that I hope all my readers had a great holiday! We still have New Years coming up, but time really flies! Next week I'll turn 22 and make the drive back to Virginia. It would be an amazing birthday present to win Miss Williamsburg, but we'll see! I'm excited about going back to Virginia, although it's been great to see old friends and spend time with family.

I did catch Crowned last night, but I have my final doctors appointment of my holiday break so I need to run! I'll post more later!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Laura's thoughts on Crowned

I’ve been incredibly busy but I wanted to check in and let everyone know my thoughts about this weeks edition of “Crowned”.

Although I’m decidedly biased since I’ve always been a fan of Miss Wyoming 06, The Daredevil Divas performed extremely well. I’ve always got my fingers crossed when they perform. It’s usually very nerve wracking to be watching a pageant versus being in it, and I always hold my breath when the teams I like are performing. Team Wyoming’s performance and fitness were outstanding- I have to say that their performance exemplifies “fitness” in a world where the swimsuit competition sometimes means pursuing unhealthy options to look the most “fit”. They did an excellent job.

And now for a Crowned Connection: Team Diamond Dolls are former American Coed ladies. The daughter has another sister, Amanda, who competed with me in Orlando for the title of Miss American Coed last year. I remember seeing the mother, and the girl competing on Crowned is also a former American Coed queen.

The only aspect of the show I don’t really like is that it was clear their was a division between the “nice” girls and the “mean girls”. There are plenty of stereotypes about pageants already, one of them being that the girls backstage are vicious and always prepared to sabotage or talk another contestant down. In my opinion, the girls I have encountered through Miss Virginia preliminaries are nothing of the sort: they are the kind of girls who will lend you swimsuit adhesive when you run out, offer to feed you when you’re traveling alone, lend their steamers to girls who need to steam their dress, and kindly offer hair help. Unfortunately, I’m sure that kind of behavior doesn’t get good ratings. I was amazed at how openly nasty a few of the teams were- they were making fun of beautiful accomplished women only a few feet from their faces.

After the swimsuit challenge, the team from Delaware won (and they picked good colors for their skin that highlighted their fitness) but several other teams appeared to be jealous and began making fun of their noses.

This always reminds me of the vicious comments that appear on anonymous pageant message boards, but it takes some real nerve to make fun of somebody who is living in your house and eating dinner only a few feet away. In this case, I don’t think there is any way we can blame the nastiness on poor editing: a bad attitude translates easily.

In any case, I was uplifted by some of the nicer teams and continue to wish them the best of luck!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Miss America Contestant Profile: Hannah Kiefer

Photo: Hannah dancing at the Miss Shenandoah Valley Pageant in September. Photo by Julius Tolentino.
Contestant: Hannah Kiefer, Miss Virginia
Education: Hollins University, Roanoke, VA
Awards at State Pageant: Preliminary Swimsuit and Talent Award
Talent: Ballet
Platform: Creating Healthy Choices for Teens





News Links:

Hannah Kiefer Wins Miss Virginia
Miss Virginia Poses with Sherriff Candidate
Miss Virginia Speaks at Middle School

VFIC

Congratulations RMWC classmate Leah Hendrix on winning the Philip Morris USA/VFIC Scholarship, worth $10,000. I received this scholarship my sophomore year, and this generous gift meant that I didn't have to take out any loans aside from one Stafford loan to complete college.

This scholarship also comes with an opportunity to apply for an internship your junior year and the chance to meet the CEO of Philip Morris in February. They treat all the winners to a really nice luncheon with top executives in the company.

Congrats Leah!

Miss America Viewing Party

The Miss Mountain Empire Organization (home local of current Miss Virginia, Hannah Kiefer) will be sponsoring a Miss America Viewing Party from the Cinemall in Abingdon, Virginia. Tickets are $5.

Miss Mountain Empire Homepage



MISS AMERICA PAGEANT
January 26, 2008 8:00pm
on the big screen, in hi-def and digital sound!
GOOD LUCK MISS VIRGINIA, HANNAH KIEFER!
sponsored by:
Miss Mountain Empire Scholarship Organization

Randolph College- Why They Give

Today we got an E-news update from the school, and inside it was this link to a video of alumnae who have chosen to give to the college. Those who know the situation at the college well might recognize a few of the more vocal Pro Randolph College alums in the video; I know I did.

What I found most important about this video was the number of women who referenced their experience at the "college" as the number one reason they give. Well, two years ago, you would have found this blogger working days in the admission office, evenings calling prospective students, hosting students overnight in my room who were considering the school, and spending my weekends sitting on student panels. To say the least, I loved RMWC, too! None of the women in the video have ever attended "Randolph College" and I think it would be interesting to make a video about how current students feel about Randolph College and whether they would consider giving. I think, having lived through it, the answers would be very different than the alums on the video.


In any case, check it out!

Video Link

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Miss America profiles

Since I’ve been able to post about presidential candidates, I think it’s important to recognize that we are soon going to have another important representative for our country: Miss America. Usually I’m able to pick a few favorites, but with more pageant experience I’ve come to realize that some pageants are unpredictable.

Last year, Oklahoma and Texas (along with a few others) were obvious choices for top spots at Miss America. This year, however, I’ve looked at candidate profiles and followed them all, and I can’t even begin to choose a top 10, let alone a top 15. Of course, I have a few favorites that I like to call “outside the mold”, girls that I’m supporting because I believe they bring a little something different to the table. So, along with my homestate favorites (Ohio and Virginia) I’ll share some information about a few girls that I’ll really be cheering for in Vegas come January.

I always feel compelled to say “please remember that this is my opinion” because I don’t pretend to be a journalist, pageant expert, or certified judge. I like to share my opinion based off of a few years in “pageant land” and many years of watching Miss America.

So stay tuned for my Miss America profiles, coming soon!

Candidate Profile: John Edwards

Candidate profiles: How do they work? I promise that in this upcoming primary season, I would profile all the candidates for president so that everyone has the tools available to make their decisions (remember: no excuses this year). I’ll give you basic details about the candidate, their position on some key issues, and in areas where I think they’ve hit the nail on the head in recognizing a problem, I’ve awarded them “bonus points”. Although I marked my top two candidates, I’ve tried to remain neutral (although sometimes, even with candidates like Kucinich, it’s hard to not show a little bias). Please remember that anything I state is simply my opinion- I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I have watched every Democratic debate thus far and parts of Republican debates. I do follow Democrat candidates closely so I probably know more than the average person, but take my opinion with a grain of salt. My goal is to give you the information about the candidates.

The Candidate:

John Edwards

*This candidate is my second choice for the presidential nomination.

Experience: Former Senator from N.C.

Former V.P. Candidate

Legal career experience, clerked for a federal judge

The positions:

The economy:

Reducing poverty is one of Edwards’ key goals

*Bonus Points* The Edwards administration promises payment of tuition, books, and fees for any student who agrees to work part time during their first year at a public college.

*Bonus Points* Edwards wants a complete revamp of the student loan program

The environment:

Edwards supports reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other initiatives to reduce global warming.

Controversial Issues:

Favors legal access to abortion

Opposes a military draft

Opposes gay marriage, also not supportive of amendments banning gay marriage

Supports the presentation of timetables to withdraw from Iraq

Supports programs that create paths for illegal immigrants to become citizens

Healthcare:

Supports subsidized healthcare purchases for low income Americans

University of Toledo

“Well, there’s always UT”

At my high school, it was a guarantee that the majority of the graduating class would attend the University of Toledo of Bowling Green State University. I always pictured UT and especially BG as an extended high school, with the potential of running into old Algebra classmates very high. I never considered either school for undergrad, just because they didn’t fit what I wanted (small, tough academics, out of Ohio) but it was a joke at my high school.

In my last year of German in high school, our teacher went around the room asking everyone “UT? Or BG?” and we’d all laugh as the majority answered one or the other along with a few “Ohio State” or “Kent” thrown into the mix.

I have friends at both schools, and they like it. Both schools have good programs, I’m sure, but yesterday was one of those days I was glad I never went to UT.

Once I edited a paper for a friend who attends one of these schools, and it was something that would definitely earn a C or maybe a B- at Randolph Macon, but this person received an A after my edits. He joked that he had passed the “foreign language proficiency test” after taking two years in high school of a very light foreign language program. I knew I made the right academic choice with RMWC, but I am more glad than ever that I never chose UT.

Whenever I was facing a really difficult calculus or macroeconomic theory test, my friend Michael (who attended UT Law and had a great experience there) would always joke “Well, if it goes badly, there’s always UT…..”

Several weeks ago I had to call and schedule to take the GRE at the University of Toledo. My school schedule this last semester was hectic, and I frequently had a “phone calls to make/return” list that extended down a sheet of paper in my to-do book. Whenever I had a chance, I’d make a few calls, and one day I thought that scheduling the GRE would only take a few minutes. Well, whatever student was employed by the testing center was strangely unfamiliar with scheduling people. It took over 20 minutes just to sign up, and I had to spell my last name four times (my last name is ten letters, but it’s not difficult). He also tried to tell me that there was no Graytown, OH, although I assured him that I lived there. He told me they don’t accept cash, and even though I didn’t like giving my credit card number to this guy over the phone, I had no choice. This student also put me on hold after every question he asked. Our conversation went something like this.

“What test do you want to take?”

The general GRE.

”I’m putting you on hold.”

“Okay, what day?”

Any day in December in the morning. After the 15th is good.

“Okay, let me put you on hold.”

“Okay, I’m back”

And so it went on for nearly half an hour.

After I was finally registered for the test, I joked to my mom “Wow, I definitely made the right choice not applying to UT…”

Well, yesterday I did take the test, and what an experience. First of all, for several days before the test most of Northern Ohio experienced a huge snowstorm that cancelled school. The day before the test, I went off the road about 2 miles from my house, and the roads were definitely dangerous. Just to make sure, I called the testing center simply to ask what would happen if it was too dangerous to come take the test. They told me that if they were open, I should be there. When I explained that I lived 45 minutes from Toledo, they told me I might be excused if I could fax them a CNN report about how dangerous the weather was where I lived. If CNN ever covers Graytown weather, please let me know.

With that in mind, my mom and I figured that I had to get to the test. My car was in the shop getting the muffler replaced and my mom had to be at work in the morning and my brother needed to get to school. We got up at 5:30 in the morning, left my brother at the bus stop, and drove to Toledo.

I finally got there and took the test, which was pretty stressful. Afterwards, I asked the student in the testing center if he knew of any cab companies or busses. He seemed baffled that I didn’t have a car. Since this place (the Scott Park campus of UT) also administers the ACT, a high school test for college entrance), I thought it would be pretty common that some people didn’t have cars. I guess not. Perhaps it was my fault that I was relying on the students employed in the testing center, but they were all UT students and this one even had a “student government” shirt on so I thought he could help.

He informed me there was a bus stop about two miles from the campus, although he didn’t know what direction.

I called my mom and we found a cab company. At 11:45, I was told by the cab company that it would be about an hour before they could get to me. That wasn’t such a big problem.

The Scott Park campus is dead- completely dead. First of all, it’s after exams, and I have no idea what UT actually uses Scott Park for the begin with- the library was the size of two small classrooms, there was no wireless access, and vending machines provided the only link to food.

After an hour, no cab had showed up, so I called back. The same guy at Checker cab told me their radios were down but he was trying to get someone to come get me ( I just wanted to go over towards the Westfield mall near Monroe, which was a short 20 minute trip).

I kept calling the cab company back, but my mom was in her board meeting and I felt like I had no link to the outside world. After three and a half hours and repeated phone calls to the cab company, I was frustrated. I had asked people in every office in the building, and they knew nothing about the cabs or busses. None of them offered to help me, although many tried to give me driving directions. I had to explain multiple times that I didn’t have a car, and no one could even offer me a phone book!

Finally, my boyfriend, a knight in shining armor yesterday, called and pulled into a parking lot to look up cabs on the internet. He found a cab company that showed up within five minutes, and this cab company seemed familiar with the problems of the first company. I think I will report the bad company.

So, after eating breakfast extremely early, I finally ate lunch at 3:30 PM over near my gym in Toledo before working out. What a total mess!

So, I have to say it again:

I’m SO glad I never went to the University of Toledo!

Holiday Dinner- another RMWC tradition




One of the few good things about this last semester is that we’ve been able to keep many of the traditions that are part of RMWC’s past. Although I’m late in blogging, I wanted to share some of my friend Nada’s pictures in celebration of a great RMWC tradition: Holiday Dinner.

For Holiday Dinner, the Dining Hall cooks us decent food (and trust me, this is an important event, because it was the first week all semester that I used all 14 of my meals in my meal plan on campus. I usually avoid the dining hall and make my own food!) and we sign up with our sister class to eat at tables.

Unfortunately, the location of our table meant that we had to wait nearly an hour just to get in the buffet line, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that Nada and Audra had classes at 7 and the dinner began at 6. We finally encouraged them to break the rules and get in line so they could have something to eat before a long night class.

After you eat dinner, we all stand on the chairs of the dining hall and sing Christmas carols and “Santa” (i.e. some professor, usually Dr. Sheldon of Physics) comes around to give us candy. It’s a great way to relax as exams grow near!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, I haven't been able to update as much as I wanted, because Ohio got a huge snowstorm and we have been trapped at home. This morning I tried to drive into Oak medicine and my car went off the road. Luckily it was in a small ditch and a lot of people stopped to check on me while I waited for AAA. What an experience. Needless to say, I'm not anxious to get back on the road. My muffler also fell off so now I need to get that fixed.


Anyways, I have a lot to do so I'll have to write another time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

CW shows

Last night America's Next Top Model had a finale and the new CW show, Crowned, appeared. I have been looking forward to Crowned for some time, since Miss Wyoming 2006, Jeniliegh, was rumored to be on the show. I have always admired Jenileigh, since she's a great aerialist with some powerful leg muscles. Last night on the show she even shared her insecurities about her weight.

Although Jenileigh is in no way overweight, by pageant standards, she is “huge”. I admire her because we share the same weakness- swimsuit. Jenileigh was torn apart constantly during her time competing because of her weight, and I admire that she has put herself out there again in the “pageant world”. The show was good, although there were definitely some girls or teams that grated me the wrong way. My favorite team, the Dream Gals, ended up making the best “first impression”.

There were both talented singers and genuine women and I loved that they were outside the “Pageant Patty” mold.

The team that ended up going home was too pageant patty for me, because they just came off as over-prepared, even though they were unable to get their message across. The team I cannot stand is one where the daughter shares my name- she is domineering, negatigve, and catty. And yes, I got all that just from the first episode! Especially since the show was about first impressions, that team bothered me. The daughter Laura constantly talked about how other teams were ugly and how she and her mother were beautiful and how they were going to win. Yuck! I was glad that the unconventional team won the challenge and that the Pageant Patties were sent home!

In other news, Saleisha was crowned the newest “America’s Next Top Model”. I was really pulling for her. Although the other girl, Chantal, was pretty, she reminded me of Caridee too much and I was tired of the blondes dominating. I’ve been watching ANTM since my first year in college with my roommate Nada and friends Whitney and Vanessa, and Whitney and I hated the haircut they gave Saleisha this season. Even though it was a hideous bowl cut with bangs, she managed to pull it off and I doubt there are many people who could look good with that style. She has a lot of potential. I am sure that Chantal, like many other finalists on past seasons, will become a successful model anyways, but it doesn’t hurt to have that $100,000 contract from Cover Girl to kick off your career, as well as all the connections that the show provides!

Well, it’s day 3 of doctors appointments. Every time I come home for winter break or summer, I have to make sure I schedule all my doctors appointments so I can see each physician before I move back to Virginia.

I am taking the GRE next Tuesday and after that, graduate school is then out of my hands! I finished all the essays, applied online with all the correct information, and I have been notified by some of my recommenders that they have mailed their portions (my recommendations are coming from Canada and England, so I had to be cautious of deadlines with overseas and air mail in mind).

Soon “Randolph College” will be announcing which professors are being “involuntarily terminated” and I’m waiting for that email, which I’ll post here once I receive. Miraculously, the college has been taken off financial warning from SACS, but mark my words, if we continue down this path, we’ll be placed on academic warning soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I have so much to update on, but since I'm also making the final edits to my political science senior paper, I'm not sure how long I can manage typing.


I drove home on Monday after my biology exam, and the drive went very well. I left about 11:00 and got home shortly before 10:00 pm that night. It is really great to be home. My mom gave my brother and I a Christmas present early. It is the new game "Rock band" where you actually form a band and try to play the notes as they come on the screen. It reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution in the way that it is played.


This morning I had an eye appointment and as suspected, I do have an infection. My eyes are really sensitive and even though I use a particular kind of contact lens and solution, I still got the same infection I had four years ago. Luckily, it's easily treatable and I just have to skip wearing my contacts for ten days so that my eyes can recover.

We don't have internet at our house, so tonight I'm at our church finishing up my senior paper.


It's actually very nice to be away from the internet, since it's a good break and I enjoy catching up on reading more anyways.


With that said, it's back to the paper!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Yay! I made it!

With less than a day left here, I thought I'd write a quick post (I'm also anxious for a brief study break from biology...)


I'll be leaving tomorrow morning immediately after my biology exam and I'm facing about a 9-11 hour trip, depending on traffic, weather, how tired I am, etc. I am fully prepared to take a break tomorrow night near the Ohio/WV border if need be, but I'm also extremely anxious to get home! Everyone who knows me well knows I'm close with my mom and brother and I'm anxious to see them as well as my local friends. My friend Amy is even coming in from California (the two of us were the only people from our graduating class who ventured outside of Ohio or Michigan to attend college. She graduated from FIDM in two years and is working for Disney. She's an outstanding fashion designer and I hope to be able to see her while I'm back! I'm also looking to catch up with my good high school friends Julie and Brad, and just enjoy the holidays.

I didn't ask for anything for Christmas this year, because I don't really need or want anything, but I'm excited about going home. We usually try to do indoor rock climbing or skiing while I'm home, and I also love attending my home church for Christmas eve service. The members of my church community are wonderful and there are several families that went above and beyond during my year in England, sending me care packages, letters, and warm emails. I am always grateful to see those people again.

And, excitingly, after my birthday in January (the 4th) I'm going to Hawaii! I can't wait, since I've never been there I'm ready for a warm climate. I'll post more details later.

I'm also anxious to get out of here since I've worked extremely hard this semester and because I will be driving back on January 3rd to compete in Miss Williamsburg on January 5th. I used to have a friend at William and Mary Law, but he has since graduated and passed the bar, so if anyone is near Williamsburg, please feel free to come cheer me on! After Miss Williamsburg I'll be flying to Hawaii then returning to Lynchburg for one more semester. I was hoping to be able to attend Miss Ohio's send off party on January 5th, but I am looking forward to Miss Williamsburg. Good luck at Miss America, Roberta (and Hannah Kiefer, too!)

Next semester I think my blogs will be more interesting, since I'm participating in the American Culture Program. We'll be looking at consumerism in America, and the culmination is a trip to Las Vegas in April.


Anyways, back to molecular genetics.
Once I'm home I'll write a summary post of this semester.
In the meantime, good luck with finals to all my R-MWC sisters! For many of us seniors, these are the last final exams we will ever take here!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm almost done!

Sorry for the lack of blogging, but this was both the last week of classes and the week where almost everything was due. I had my biology lab practical on Tuesday, I handed in my economics senior paper proposal on Wednesday, and I've spent the week working the kinks out of my econometrics project.

Economics has been a very stressful course of study for the last few years, and there have definitely been times when my sheer determination was the only thing getting me through. One particular area has really tested me this semester: data availability. Originally, I wanted to conduct my senior research about the wage gap in East Germany before and after unification, and there was a great data set with thousands of life history interviews of East and West Germans. Unfortunately, this data was also coming from Germany and it was $125. In the beginning of the semester, I had mentioned that I wanted to do this project and wasn't prepared for how difficult it would be. A week and a half before my paper proposal was due, I heard from the econ department that they couldn't pay for my data. If I had known earlier, I would have tried to find the funds or search for a new project, but this put me in a real crunch to find a new project. I eventually found one after much stress and wrote the proposal. Last week in our final seminar, my econometrics partner Olya mentioned that she had the same problems I did- her data cost $100. During that seminar, Olya said that her parents were buying her the data as her Christmas present, and our professor said he could help pay for it. I was frustrated and sad, because I had been put under so much stress and had to find a new project when it seemed like I could have kept my old one. After the seminar, the professor emailed me to apologize and explain, but I wish I hadn't had to go through that experience. My new project is going to examine the economic consequences of divorce for women.


Now on to my econometrics project- what a nightmare. I have changed topics FOUR times due to lack of data. Finally, I ended up looking at Okun's law to examine whether that was historically consistent in the United States. I couldn't be more relieved that the project is finished.

This last week has also been full of college events and traditions like Holiday Dinner and the Treelighting Ceremony, and completing course evaluations.


Since I spent my Thanksgiving break here working on all my papers, I am leaving on Monday after my only exam in biology. Oh, the joys of self-scheduled exams!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hello all! I have been very busy but I'm happy to be back :)

Last week was a total nightmare. I found out on Monday afternoon that I needed to re-work my entire econ senior paper because of a lack of data. It was very stressful but thankfully I came up with a project that has available data.


It took me five and a half hours to get up to Arlington, but it was a good weekend. All in all, I truly believe that every contestant there was a standout; it was a very strong field.

Congrats to the new winners:
Miss Arlington 2008, Tara Wheeler
Miss Fairfax 2008, Kristena Wright


I appreciate all the support, love and help always being thrown my way and know that I always do my best. Each pageant I feel like I have improved at least a little bit from the one prior and this is such a good self-improvement exercise.

With the dream of competing at Miss Virginia next June in mind, I am focusing on preparing for the remaining pageants as well as graduating from college (although I can't believe that graduation is just around the corner!) Unfortunately, my traveling schedule next semester severely limits which pageants I can compete in; a few of our trips directly conflict with preliminary pageants. Although most of the semester I'll only have class Tuesday-Thursday, it's a bad coincidence that the few times we travel keep me from competing in pageants. It's motivating but also a little scary that there are only a handful of pageants I'll be able to compete in next spring, so I really want to work hard and make it to that Miss Virginia stage.

For now, I have seven days left in this semester before I'm leaving to head home, so wish me luck finishing my remaining projects and papers!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lynchburg Safety Alert

My dorm has now enacted a 24/7 guest escort policy, and the building will be closed off to allow access only to us seniors. This is a good because the last few weeks have resulted in increasing safety problems all around Lynchburg. More computers were stolen at Lynchburg College recently, and we received the following email today.

Be careful, everyone! I'll be back next week!


Police release sketch of man in Liberty University stabbing

By Carrie J. Sidener and Dave Thompson

csidener@newsadvance.com; dthompson@newsadvance.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Police now have an idea of what the man who attacked a student in a women’s restroom on Liberty University’s campus looks like.

A composite sketch was released Wednesday of the man who is believed to have stabbed a student in the hand Tuesday evening in a second-floor women’s bathroom of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center.

Campus security has increased because of the attack and authorities are asking students to stay alert and travel in numbers, said Ron Godwin, Liberty’s executive vice president. Students who request it will be escorted to their destination after dark, he said.

The security measures will remain in place until the man is arrested, Godwin said.

“It needs to be remembered that this assault happened on the second floor at 5:45 p.m. in a building literally teeming with people,” Godwin said. “That’s what’s even more startling.”

The DeMoss center is one of LU’s main academic buildings, with classrooms, computer services, the library, and the central university bookstore.

The attack happened when a man approached the women’s restroom with a foldout wet floor sign, Godwin said. He set up the sign outside the women’s bathroom after the student walked inside, then slipped quietly inside and put on a ski mask.

The victim, whose name is not being released, was in the bathroom stall when he entered, Godwin said.

“She had no idea that he had entered the room,” Godwin said.

The man forcefully entered the stall and moved to stab her. She raised her hands to defend herself and screamed. That’s when the man ran out, grabbed the wet floor sign and fled, Godwin said.

The wet floor sign was found later in the stairwell.

“I talked to the young lady myself this afternoon,” Godwin said Wednesday evening. “The trauma of the event was worse than the actual injury.”

Godwin said she received stitches in her left hand. The woman is receiving counseling and is “supported by a very strong circle of family and friends.”

Liberty has 80 police officers and security personnel and has brought in expertise from the Lynchburg Police Department and the Virginia State Police to assist in the investigation.

“Nothing about this has to do with adequate or inadequate security,” Godwin said. “There is no way to anticipate all the possible incidents that could happen that have never previously happened. This is a first for Liberty and it happened in the most unlikely place - the second floor of the most densely populated place.”

The Lynchburg Police Department is providing investigators and consulting on the case. The Virginia State Police is also providing experts from its criminal investigations unit, which produced the composite sketch.

Major Andy Vest of the Lynchburg Police Department said city officers are assisting Liberty at the campus police department’s request.

The Liberty University Police Department has been in operation since 1997. Its officers are sworn law enforcement and have gone through the same basic training as other police departments, Vest said.

“They call us when they need assistance,” Vest said. “When they have something serious like this, they call us right away. … We treat it just as if it’s one of our cases. We work it jointly.”

Some students on campus are taking the attack more seriously than others.

“We joked about it, but then we all walked back to our dorms alone,” Jen Slothower said Wednesday afternoon.

For some students, the only notification they received was an e-mail alert sent to the students on Tuesday night.

Some didn’t realize anything was going on until they received the e-mail or heard of the incident from other students.

“I had no idea about it until after curfew last night at about like 10,” said Justin Melvin, who didn’t see the e-mail, since his computer is broken.

Slothower was returning from work and saw the ambulance parked in front of the DeMoss center.

“I just thought somebody had breathing problems or something insignificant like that,” she said.

Melvin said several students are taking precautions, namely carpooling and trying to stay in groups after dark.

“I don’t think we’re on lockdown mode like everyone’s scared to step outside, but at the same time people are taking slight precautions.”

“It hasn’t really sunk in, I don’t think, to a lot of people,” he added.

Aleisia Lossau said girls in particular should be safety-minded.

“If girls are smart, they’re smart, and they’re not by themselves,” she said.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My motto for 2008

Many may know by now, but I suspect some don't.

We are rapidly approaching the presidential primary season, one of the most exciting and surprising times of the election cycle. In 2004, no one really expected John Kerry to be the frontrunner when the primary hoopla began- I myself always stood by Howard Dean even after his "scream".

Being a college student, I'm always amazed by my peers who choose not to get involved. To sit along on the sidelines, complain about the state of things, and do NOTHING about it. I persuaded one of these friends to request a North Carolina absentee ballot in 2004, and she voted for Bush after he won in an eenie meenie minee moe contest. I'm not kidding.

So for this upcoming election season, I'm implementing my OWN campaign!

2008: No Excuses!

The electronic world has made it so easy to access information, especially about politics. You can find up to the minute information about debates, speeches, and candidates. You can request absentee ballots for any election (I mailed my ballot from England last year. Distance and oceans are no excuse!) Of course, my mother is chair of the board of elections, so I automatically know when each election is, but the information is easy to find!

You have a voice, and you can exercise it. I heard many people complain that they didn't like John Kerry. So get out there and vote for a candidate you want to be president- it really can make a difference.

To help you all along, over the coming weeks leading up the kickoffs in January, I'll be posting candidate profiles and helpful information about elections. To keep things "fair and balanced" I'll even post a Republican candidates profile with each Democrat.

Hopefully it will encourage a few more people to get out there and vote. A while ago I installed a counter and statistics part to my blog, so I know that people all over the country and especially the states of Ohio and Virginia read this blog. Both Ohio and Virginia will be key states in 2008- and I want EVERYONE who reads this blog to vote, whether its at the polls or through the mail.


I'll update another day about my Thanksgiving break and life, maybe once I get through this very challenging week!

So stay tuned, educate yourself, and get involved!
No excuses!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Congrats Elizabeth!

I just heard the news that Elizabeth Yeager, a fellow Ohio girl and longtime friend, won the title of Miss American Coed Victory in Orlando this week.

Elizabeth and I started competing together over five years ago in American Coed.
The first time I ever entered a pageant was the summer of my sophomore year in high school. My friend, Amber Carolus, had been competing in this pageant for a few years, and said it was a lot of fun. It was certainly like nothing I had ever done before, and my friend Brett dared me to enter the pageant that summer and wear a pink dress- so I took her up on it.

Going into that first pageant weekend, I never anticipated that I would enter another pageant again. I expected to have fun, but I had no idea how much I would gain and grow from that experience. I was competing for Miss Ohio Jr. Teen, and there were 225 in that division. It was a little scary to be up against so many girls. It didn't help that my JC Penney dress had grown too short over the months preceding the pageant- my mom stayed up most of the night prior to evening gown sewing three inches of lace to the bottom of the dress.

At the end of that pageant, I was in the top 25. I never expected to come away with anything, especially being up against so many girls in my first pageant ever. I had an excellent weekend and came back the next year.

Throughout the coming years, American Coed held a special place in my heart each summer. I won numerous talent, volunteer service, modeling, and speech awards, and always placed in the top ten, and several times as a runner up.

Last summer I competed for Miss Ohio American Coed and won! It was one of the most precious moments of my life and something I will always remember. It was something I worked extremely hard for and I feel so blessed to have represented such an amazing pageant system that truly encourages inner beauty, healthy body image, and making new friends. When I first entered that pageant, I had absolutely no self-confidence, poor public speaking skills, and slumped shoulders during evening gown.

It took me five tries to win that state title- and each year, I learned something new and pushed myself harder. I made the best of every opportunity and grew so close to many of the girls, Elizabeth included.

Elizabeth was my first runner up and she won first runner up again this summer when I crowned the new winner, Cassandra George. Cassandra is competing for Miss American Coed now as I type, and I will anxiously await the results later this evening. It is hard to believe it has been a year since I made that very eventful trip to Orlando. (The hotel charged me twice for the room before I even arrived, overdrawing on my American bank account, the hotel lost our room, Virgin Atlantic linked me to U.S. flights that didn't exist, my mom drove the entire Ohio-Orlando trip by herself, etc-it was a challenge!)

Elizabeth was accepted early to medical school at Wright State earlier this year. I hope she doesn't mind me saying that both of us have come a long way since we first competed together. That is one of my favorite things about competing in this pageant for years- you grow yourself but you also see an incredible transformation in friends.

Now, what is Coed Victory? I'll explain.

American Coed's name was created to give an image of the "all-american girl", not using coed to mean "girls and boys".They award titles in princess, sweetheart, preteen, jr. teen, teen, and Coed (the oldest division). Having an early January birthday, I was almost always the oldest in my age group. (They place you in divisions based on your age as of Jan 1st.)

Girls who win Miss State Coed titles can compete for the title of Miss American Coed. Anyone who places as a runner up to Miss State Coed can also compete for Miss American Coed. This rule exists because often the point differences between the girls in the top 5 are extremely close. For the past three years, in fact, the Miss American Jr. Teen winner has been a runner up in her state pageant. The idea is that anyone can win.

Girls who are former state queens, girls who are just competing in optionals(talent, actress, etc), and girls who didn't placed as runners up can compete for Miss American Victory. They compete in the same three categories as the other girls, but just for a different title. Elizabeth placed as a runner up this summer but chose to compete in Victory. I am so happy for her and proud of her, and I can't wait to see pictures.



well, that's all for now! I'll update later once the Miss American Coed pageant is over.

Cassandra, I am cheering you on from Virginia! You are an awesome young woman and you're doing Ohio proud! Cassandra has already won the national speech and actress competitions and placed third runner up in national talent.


Good luck to all the ladies!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving news

I just got the email update that Lauren Nelson will be in the Boscov parade on ABC during Thanksgiving coming out of Philadelphia! Everyone should tune in.


And a whole bunch of good luck wishes to all of the Miss American Coed competitors in Florida right now. Last year at this time it's hard to believe I flew from Heathrow to Orlando (with a disaster in between!!) to compete and it was a great experience, and I got to spend some time with my mom.

I wish all the ladies down there best of luck! Enjoy the Florida sun!

Campus Safety

Yesterday, I planned to go swimming during the open pool hours, but then I received an email that the first and second floors of my residence hall were having a mandatory hall meeting at 9 PM. Unfortunately, this has been one of many hall meetings this semester to address various problems.

In September, when I moved in, myself and many residents of Webb, the senior-only dorm where we live, supported a restricted access policy. This means that while we love having our underclass friends come visit us, the safety issues on campus made us uncomfortable in our own dorm. There were random men walking through our dorms even in the first few weeks of classes, and many of us felt they had no reason to be inside this building. In the post-Virginia Tech era, I was really hoping that our campus security would crack down and make this a safe environment for all students, but unfortunately campus safety has followed the path of many administration responses to problems this semester and become a disappointment.

After members of campus found out how the 80 students living in this building felt, the problem was blown out of proportion. There were flyers all over campus claiming that we wanted a campus "lockdown" and that each building should be restricted only to residents of that building. That is not, in fact, what we wanted. As senior female residents living in a turbulent campus environment, we wanted to feel safe in our own rooms and supported restricted access to this dorm.

We let the idea go, since so many people on campus believed we wanted restriction on a grand scale. Student government looked at the idea and tabled it. There was not a consensus.

Since September, however, we have had numerous security problems. Coed or not, this campus MUST be a safe place for its students. Our Honor Code should be held in high regard, but at this point, we can't trust that will happen. For this reason, I have always been a proponent of restricted access. There are several key points to support the argument for restricted access:

1.Many other college campuses allow access to dorms only to the people who live there. Having spent a spring break at Harvard and a summer in Boston frequently visiting the Harvard campus, even there students had to buzz in or call ahead to be let into other dorms. Each dorm was staffed by a student at the door, as well.

2.Our dorm has limited security. We have no peepholes on our doors, no security at the entrance, and any student on this campus can enter this senior only dorm.

3. The laundry room in this dorm is located on the lower floor, and any student can enter that laundry room through a side door without entering senior residences. Therefore, there is no reason that non-residential Webb students should be roaming these halls, particularly first year men, because it makes us extremely uncomfortable.

4. While I truly love and respect the Honor Code here, I do not hold it above my own personal safety and that of my fellow residents. Given recent incidents, I believe that our case as senior women has only been proven: this campus is not what it used to be, and it is no longer safe.

What incidences?

1. Over fall break, a senior's laptop on the 2nd floor was stolen from her room.

2. Shortly after fall break, someone's personal belongings were stolen outside her room on the first floor here.

3. Living on the first floor where the bathroom is located, I have been upset with the many non-residents of this floor who use our bathroom and trash it. It makes the job difficult for our community advisor, who then has to find the culprit and force them to clean it up.

4. Two weekends ago, my friend Whitney was in her room on Saturday night after midnight. Someone was jiggling her door handle and pounding on the door, which was thankfully locked. Whitney threw the door open to find a drunk, unescorted (this is important because it is against our hall policy for men or female guests to be unescorted) man standing there, laughing. This scared Whitney and unnerved the rest of us.

5. This past weekend, a similar incident happened to a girl on the other side of the first floor. She refused to open her door and whoever it was finally left her alone.


6. Also this past weekend, another girl on the second floor of this building had her laptop stolen.

7. A drug deal occured in this area earlier in the year, which involved the police.

8. Several weeks ago, someone was setting off fireworks in the Dell (our outside ampitheater) and throwing smoke bombs at the residents of Webb smoking on the front lawn. This was called to Security and there was no response.

9. During the removal of the art from the Maier, a "bomb threat" statement was made to a student by a police officer. This statement was later proved false, although we only received an email saying such 24 hours after the fact. I feel that once ONE person makes a statement like that to a student, the student has every right to take that seriously. The entire campus should have been alerted to a potential danger. It should have been treated seriously and later diffused, not the reverse order.

Some may say that we can't blame these thefts on the male presence on campus, and that is true. What we can say is that in my time here at R-MWC, I have never felt unsafe. I have never had anything stolen from me. My first and second year roommate Nada and I frequently left our door unlocked if we were stepping out for a short time. The majority of students here leave their mailboxes unlocked. I have left my things on a table in the library to go get a drink and never seen them touched by anyone else. Most importantly, I felt like I was a safe woman inside my own room. That is no longer the case. Why are there people pounding on our doors who don't belong here? Why do we have to call Security to alert these things, but often see them fall to the wayside until a serious incident happens?

Visiting colleges four years ago, my mother and I were always impressed with the large numbers of protective parents who had one main concern about their childs transition to college: safety.


I wish I could say I'm surprised. I wish I could say that none of us senior women predicted such rampant problems. That's not true. We all feared that this was where our beloved college was headed, and I am even more disappointed that it takes 9 serious incidents before safety is even taken seriously.


Last night at our meeting, those who showed up overwhelmingly supported a 24 hour restricted access policy in this building. The main goal of this college should be to ensure the safety of all of those within it. It is unfortunate that something like this has only been taken seriously after months of demands by the students.


For now, I guess I have to wave goodbye to the Randolph-Macon of years past. Instead of the warm Honor community we must have, we now live in a community of fear and concern. Lock your doors, don't trust your community members, and play it safe.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Miss HHDF/HNN Part 2






Again, all photos courtesy of J. Tolentino, please visit his site at http://pbase.com/nikonbuff



Also, on a side note: since yesterday afternoon I have had over 100 hits to my blog from all over the country, and some in other countries! Wow!

Photos from Miss HHDF/HNN






All of the photos come from Julius Tolentino.

Please visit his site to see all the pictures at http://pbase.com/nikonbuff


Virginia is really lucky to have such a fantastic photographer, and he deserves all the credit for his fantastic photos!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Congrats new titleholders!

Last night, two very sweet and talented young women won the titles of Miss Hampton Newport News and Miss Hampton Holly Days. Tamika Mills won Miss Hampton Holly Days and Taylor Witte won Miss Hampton Newport News.

This pageant had 15 girls in it and it was a very strong group all around! The talent was great, and I hope it made for a very entertaining show. Each of the young ladies on the stage did a great job and it really was an honor to be named 1st runner up and the interview winner.


I've used my time since being back to study and catch up on some much-needed sleep. I have a biology exam on Tuesday, so my focus goes back to school for now.

I met some really wonderful girls at this pageant and I was so glad to get to talk with them all backstage, and I hope everyone keeps competing so we can spend time together.


So, it's back to academics and work for me, and preparing for Miss Arlington/Fairfax!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Miss HHDF/HNN


I literally just parked my car about 30 minutes ago, and I am back from the pageant this weekend. Congrats to Tamika Mills and Taylor Witte, the winners.

Since I was there on my own I only have one picture I snapped backstage of Ashley Grizzard and I, but I think Julius Tolentino was on hand to snap pictures which he'll get up soon!

I'll update lots more later once I unpack :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Extremely Exciting news: RMWC art!!

I received the following message from the PEC (Preserve Educational Choice- the group who has challenged Randolph College on its many decisions), and it is truly exciting.

This is a very important step, and definitely the morale booster that so many of us alums and students need!


The Supreme Court of Virginia informed us a few moments ago that:

1) They have denied Randolph College's appeal to have the temporary
injunction removed

2) They have granted our appeal to lower the injunction surety bond
amount (it is now $1 million instead of $10 million)

3) The temporary injunction preventing the sale of these four paintings
will be "good" from November 10, 2007 for six months - however, the
injunction will dissolve if the surety bond is not paid by the end of
December 3, 2007

Given that the two Christie's auctions are Nov 19 and Nov 29 while the
injunction is clearly in effect, we can assume that the paintings will not
be sold at these auctions. We will (of course) ask Christie's to confirm
that the paintings have been withdrawn from the auctions and will let you
know when we have received that assurance.

We are working on a PEC update that will be issued later today as well as a
press release. -- Anne Y. (PEC)



And here is the email John Klein sent out to the community:



Dear Campus Community:

This morning the Virginia Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction enjoining the College from selling the Bellows, Hicks, Tamayo, and Hicks paintings for six months. The injunction will automatically dissolve if the plaintiffs fail to post a $1,000,000 surety bond by December 3, 2007.

We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision. We have notified Christie’s to withdraw the paintings from their November auctions.

The Court’s decision delays the sale of paintings and therefore limits the extent by which the College can reduce its endowment spending rate this year. The College has taken substantial additional steps throughout the year to improve its operating budget, and these will continue to benefit the College’s financial situation.

We continue to believe the College has the right and the responsibility to make the decisions that are in the best interest of the College as a whole, and the Board of Trustees will continue to make the decisions necessary to ensure the College’s future. We believe the College will prevail when this extended litigation is put to rest.

John E. Klein
President






(I'm in Hampton to compete for Miss Hampton Holly Days Festival/Hampton Newport News, which I'm really excited about. I just wanted to update everyone quickly about this great news! I'll check back in on Sunday or Monday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!)



-Laura

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Student and Faculty Reactions to Art Sale




Important News- RMWC Art

I have an update on one of the stories about my college that has caused an uproar on campus and the Lynchburg community, which is the sale of 4 pieces of art to help boost the "Randolph College" allotment. These pieces of art were added to the RMWC collection early in its history, the most prized and famous being the George Bellows "Men of the Docks". The pictures were removed from campus in a two hour time period several weeks ago, with the museum director being barred from her office while the paintings were removed and wrapped in bubble wrap. The paintings were then transported to Christie's, where they are to appear in an auction on November 19th.


As a student here (and particularly an economics one) I've been horrified by the ethics , or lack thereof, from this case, and also the fact that everything at Randolph College keeps getting worse. Just when will it stop? I fail to see how the sale of "assets" (and the debate over whether art can even be considered an asset in a liberal arts college has already been decided for this blogger) will boost the endowment enough to save the school. Even it if does, the college is being ripped of one of its many treasures, that in the long run simply can't attract students. Those of us tied to R-MWC were heartbroken the night the story about the art broke, and since then it has just created an even bigger divide in this school, among the students, faculty, and community.

This is something I've been wanting to write about for some time, although my schoolwork has been my focus. Now that things are cooling off a bit, I thought I'd share some of the news stories, photos, and my personal opinion about this latest travesty.

Last week, an injunction was granted to students and former staff/students who wanted to halt the sale, although the group was given a deadline of tomorrow to come up with $10 million dollars in order for the injunction to be complete. I hope that somehow, this money has been raised, although I am deeply worried about how this art sale has damaged the college's reputation and integrity beyond repair.


Please click on the below link to read a letter in which the Virginia Association of of Museums denounces the college for this act.

http://www.vamuseums.org/pdfs/Maier%20Letter.pdf




Also, the most recent news story about the injunction on the art sale:
http://www.wsls.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSLS%2FMGArticle%2FSLS_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173353495737&path=!news!localnews


In this situation, the best we can do is share information about these unethical approaches to running an institution of higher education, and to stand strong about the importance of art to all students in a liberal arts college. The Maier Museum here has a long legacy of outstanding collections, and R-MWC has long been working with artists and sharing programs through which we have been able to showcase great works of art on loan. I feel sure that no museum or artist would ever feel comfortable sharing art with this school any more, and the loss of such great opportunities is devastating.

1/4 of the Way Finished!

I am excited to report that I am all ready to present tomorrow in my political science seminar. Since I have two majors, I have two senior papers and two presentations to do, and tomorrow I'm giving my first one, and I'll be a quarter of the way done with my senior work!

I found a lot of great information for this presentation including articles and books as well as newspaper coverage and videos which will make my presentation a little more interesting for my senior classmates to watch!

My powerpoint is all finished and tonight I just have to run through speaking it a few times.



A huge thanks to Elizabeth Pryor, my favorite RMWC alum, who gave me an outstanding book which helped make this project MUCH easier!


The title of my project is called "Evolution of Post Cold War Strategy: The Bosnian Conflict" looking at the six major changes in strategic affairs since the collapse of the Soviet Union and how the Bosnian intervention reflects each of those changes.


Wish me luck tomorrow; I'm really excited about it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wish me luck!

This, like many other weeks, has been a very busy one!

Yesterday I went to a professors house with several other seniors to talk and enjoy wine and cheese, and it was wonderful to get off campus for a little bit and catch up with some of the girls I haven't seen as much all semester.

Tonight I'm going to a dinner with all the other accepted American Culture Program students, as well as past participants, to celebrate the program's 16 years in existence here at R-MWC.


Thursday I will present on my senior paper topic for political science, which is basically a presentation explaining to the class what I'll be looking at in my senior paper. Having read parts of a great book I received last week, I can definitely see my paper expanding into independent study next semester if I wanted to do that.

This weekend, I'm excited to report that I'll be headed over to Hampton Virginia to compete for the titles of Miss Hampton Holly Days Festival and Miss Hampton Newport News. The directors have been wonderful already, and it would be great to work with them as a local titleholder!

On Monday, I'm going to be participating in a bridal photoshoot for the YWCA here in Lynchburg. The YWCA also operates the Domestic Violence Prevention Center, where I have been interning since August. The staff at the office really wanted me to participate in the shoot. I'll be featured in all the ads for the YWCA Bridal Shop, which sells gently used and donated new gowns here in Lynchburg. We're also having our hair and makeup done professionally, and traveling to a beautiful manor to get the photos done. This seemed like such a fun opportunity and a unique way to help out the shelter beyond my everyday responsibilities, so I'm really excited about being one of the models! I was told we'll also be on a website, so maybe I can link that once the pictures are done!

On Tuesday I have a biology exam and then Thanksgiving break begins, and I'm really looking forward to the chance to relax, finish my graduate school applications, and cook food for friends.

With all that said, I need all your good luck wishes for this week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Big Success!

Photos from "Tacky Party" and "Fall Formal"



A few weeks ago, I posted that I was planning for Never Ending Weekend, and I have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to post many pictures from the events. Right now I am taking a ten-minute break from working on my politics powerpoint for my senior presentation next week, and thought it might be a good use of my time to share a few pictures.

First of all, the events were a HUGE success. We had great turnout, the decorations at both events looked great, and we had wonderful musicians! I am so proud of how all of this turned out, and I have heard so many comments about students who enjoyed it and what an improvement on past parties it was. We decided to use the campus radio station, the WWRM, to DJ the event and this was a great idea, because students felt comfortable asking for requests and we were also able to advertise this event and promote the WWRM and MAC together.

I took tons of pictures at Tacky Party, but Saturday night was consumed by the pageant here in Lynchburg, so I borrowed some from my friends Nada, Sarah, and Molly. It's good to know that students had a great time after so many of us worked really hard!

Blessed and Thankful

It's thanksgiving season... and a few weeks before, I already have thanks to give!


This past week has been overwhelming and tiring-but in a good way!

My academics have demanded my full focus, and I am really pleased with how I am doing. In the week before this, I felt like I had fallen behind due to a lot of other demands on my time, but now that things have settled I am excited to report that I am ahead of schedule!

This week was somewhat stressful because I realized on Monday that my dataset for my econometrics project was not workable, because the data was $125. Although I will definitely need the data for my senior econ project next semester, I am worried that it wouldn't arrive in time, and I'll probably have to ask my advisors about whether this can be funded through the department. In the meantime, I stayed after class and my professor and I altered my hypothesis so that I can use United States' census data instead of German data, and I have a new project.

I'm also excited that next semester I will be doing independent senior research in the politics department, which will allow me to write 25-30 pages either expanding my current research or looking at a new topic. I'm excited about being offered this chance and I really believe it will be helpful as I prepare for graduate school.

Today I went out to replace some things I needed, and purchase my mother's Christmas present. I was successful on all attempts and came back on campus to spend some time with Nada, my first and second year roommate and closest friend. This semester, we have both been overwhelmed with our workload and extracurricular commitments but I consider myself very lucky to have been assigned Nada as a roommate my first year here. She has been my best friend ever since, and between her and Meaghan, my roommate in England last year, I have never had a bad roommate situation! I have been really blessed in that area.


Speaking of being blessed, some truly amazing things have happened for me in the past week. I have been showered with generosity and kindness on many levels, and I don't know that I will ever be able to adequately thank all those who have helped me on the journey to my dreams- both academically and in the Miss America organization. Several people stepped forward offering to help me in my 'pursuit of the crown' and have enabled me to enhance my wardrobe and given of their time and kindness. It has not only helped me on this road to Miss America, but given me greater confidence and helped make this challenging semester a much better one than I anticipated.

I am currently working on my thank you notes for these incredible gifts, although some of them have come anonymously. I wish that I could thank each individual person for what they have done for me and helped me to do- I am incredibly appreciative of these gracious gifts of your donations, time, advice, and kindness! I am so grateful to have so much support as I keep working to accomplish my dream!

I also want to thank each of my Children's Miracle Network donors, who have helped me raise $500 for CMN and Miss America this pageant season! This will allow me to now compete for all the open pageants that I choose!

I also wanted to thank the women at Virginia Baptist Hospital who have more than thanked me for my volunteer work with the I am Woman 5k run a few weeks ago; they have been so kind and I am really look forward to working with them more in the future!



In conclusion, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Miss Hill City

This past weekend was a very busy one for me, and I really enjoyed it. I had the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss Hill City, and got to see some girls I have come to know and love here in Virginia, Madison and Whitney, and I also met some great new girls who were so kind and have SO much potential! The Hill City committee was great, especially when my cd started acting like there was no song for my talent on it.

It was a stressful weekend, too, though, because it was Never Ending Weekend here at my school, and as president of the activities council I was kept very busy trying to make sure that Tacky Party on Friday and Fall Formal on Saturday were pulled off. Both of these events are very old traditions at our school, in which Friday night is a dance party where everyone dresses "tacky" (I think the name gives it away but every year some students are confused!) and on Friday everyone dresses up for fall formal.

I worked extremely hard on both of these events, as did the entire Activities Council, and they were a BIG success! We had a huge turnout, and great musicians/djs for both nights. The week leading up to all of this was very stressful, but it was all pulled off.

It was really great that Hill City was here in Lynchburg, because about 12 of my friends were able to come watch me compete, and that was really great. They were all extremely supportive and it was wonderful to have them there.
I have to say that each of the girls I have met so far in Virginia are extremely kind, and their mothers are helpful. When I competed in Shenandoah Valley, I drove there myself, stayed by myself, and managed all my own preparation. I was fine with this, but I was amazed at the mothers who offered up anything I needed.

Madison Van Duyne and her mother invited me into their room the first night and fed me a late dinner after our rehearsal, and they are the most genuine people you will ever meet. I really love Maddie's personality and her mother is so incredibly kind, and she is definitely someone that you want to spend more time with the moment you meet her! After Miss Shenandoah Valley, Madison's parents took us out to dinner, and I am so grateful for their kindness. Whitney Law's mother also offered to help me multiple times, checking in on me to make sure I was okay. This was so generous of them and I am so happy for Whitney, who won Miss Hill City after relentlessly competing for the chance to go to Miss Virginia. She and her mother are such nice people!


The pageant was a lot of fun and I am glad I did it. I am, however, looking forward to taking a break from pageants for several weeks to focus on my studies and post-graduate plans; I am taking the GRE November 16th and have a few graduate applications left to finish. I'm also preparing both my senior papers and my regression project for econometrics, so I know that my focus needs to be on my work right now.

That said, my dream of competing for Miss Virginia and Miss America is still alive and well, and I plan to return to competing as soon as I can remove my focus from school a little bit and dive back in to my community service and my passion for this program.


I want to thank all of the people who have sent me encouraging emails, letters, and flowers, because it really means a lot to me. I am so incredibly blessed to have such good friends and to meet such kind and helpful people.