Sunday, August 31, 2008

Congrats, Shannon!

Miss Virginia's Sweetheart, Shannon Beam, just made the top 5 in the Miss Sweetheart pageant! I've said this before and I'll say it again but Virginia always brings their game! I think Shannon has a real shot at this title! Good luck, girl!

Randolph College news...

From WTOP News...

My thoughts are in italics.

Lawsuits blamed for lower Randolph enrollment

August 31, 2008 - 2:17pm


Congratulations to the National Sweetheart Top 11, and to Miss Ohio and Miss Virginia, who made the cut! Miss Sweetheart is a pageant held in Illinois for all the runners up to the state pageants.

Miss Kentucky
Miss Utah
Miss Virginia
Miss Arizona
Miss South Carolina
Miss Florida
Miss Louisiana
Miss Iowa
Miss Ohio
Miss Tennessee
Miss Nebraska

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A new beginning

Have you ever felt like you have made a great decision? That you are on the path you are meant to be on?

During the past week, as I have begun classes and started my new job as a teaching assistant, I've been filled with the feeling that I made the right choice all around-career wise and school wise. Only a few months after my college graduation and I find myself once again spending hours studying and preparing notes for papers and now for my own class to teach (a scary thought!). At the same time, however, I feel renewed in the choices that I made the get me here, and the hard work I put into getting myself to graduate school.

For years during college, as I agonized over some hideous calculus assignment, horrible econometrics project, or endless economics paper, I questioned my choice to double major in a subject that used math so heavily. Practical math is fine with me- but once I ventured into abstract calculus I feared I was a goner. I worked hard to finish in four years with two majors and studying abroad, and during my entire senior year, I wondered if my choice would come back to haunt me. The economics department at my college had a different grading scale than other programs: you needed a 94 for an A-. And don't forget that this is economics, and not exactly the easiest program to begin with! So after four years of working really hard, I feared that I had sacrificed a less than perfect GPA in the name of my dual degree, and that I would be tossed aside in consideration for graduate school. I knew that if I had only majored in political science, my stronger subject, I would have left RMWC with a near 4.0 and no math classes needed. But I also would have been bored, and I like a challenge.

Especially during my senior year of college, I almost regretted my economics program many times. Like the time I had to change my senior paper topic five days before the proposal was due when the department told me they couldn't help with data. Or the time I had the change my econometrics paper topic 7 times due to data availability. Or when I realized that I never actually needed calculus because I never once did a derivative outside of calculus class. After my senior economics paper presentation, during which the professor let other students speak far longer than the 20 minutes we were allotted, making one student late for an honors society meeting and myself late for a Miss Virginia related appointment, my professor said that I looked like I was ready to be done with it. And he couldn't have said it any better. The joy I felt in handing over that final paper was bizarre- economics was killing my love for learning.

Last week, however, as I sat in my political research class, I realized that I had a leg up on all the other students. there were only five other MA students in the class, and the rest of the class included PHD candidates from other programs. The professor started talking about using regression analysis, studying materials with data, and using computer programs that I was very familiar with (perhaps just from sitting in front of a computer and saying to the computer program "Why aren't you working properly?!", but nonetheless...)

She asked us to list our previous training in statistics and other people were asking if it was okay to list classes you took twenty years ago. In that one moment it all became worth it. All those awful moments wondering whether I made the right decision. If nothing else, economics taught me how to work through things backwards, approach things with a different eye, and it certainly taught me to be a better political science student.

So I breezed through the first week of graduate school, fully confident that my undergraduate education, both in the state and abroad, armed me for the challenges I might face here. As both a student and now a teacher here, I am living out what I have wanted and I'm living my dream. I'm so grateful for every challenge I've faced in the past because I know it has prepared me for this!

Perhaps one of the few graduate students thrilled to have as much work as I do, I must get back to the grind!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I need your help!

As many of you know, I'm now officially a "starving" graduate student! Even though I'm a teaching assistant, I'm watching my money very closely! I'm certainly living my dream academically, but I want to continue competing in Miss Virginia preliminaries. So, on that note, I want to begin raising my CMN money now! Even if you can only contribute $5, that helps! Please click on the link below to help me and the Children's Miracle Network! I need to raise a total of $100 to compete in my first local!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to School

It’s hard to believe that I’m three days into graduate school and I’ve already had to break out clothing worthy of Great Britain! Blacksburg has been under a torrential downpour for the last few days, and for some reason I kept thinking that it would ease up throughout the day.

This morning as I stepped off the bus to head to class my umbrella actually blew inside out; my class was so early that the bookstore wasn’t even open yet, so I had to join my fellow drenched classmates in a drafty, damp room. (I later was able to secure a new umbrella, thankfully!). So far, everything is going well. I’m really relieved to be back in school. It was nice to be able to work over the summer and I was certainly grateful for a chance to travel home to visit my family and see friends, but I was certainly meant for school. I enjoy writing papers, studying, and reading. It’s no surprise that I plan to be a professional student then, is it?

My apartment is especially quiet since I don’t have internet or cable yet, and I don’t have much furniture either. The way my schedule is working out, I spend almost every day of the week on campus, so I usually just come home to eat, study, and head out again! My back is killing me from carrying around such a heavy load again, from I’m excited to be back in the swing of things!

And since I’m back in school, although I loved Randolph-Macon dearly, there are some advantages to attending a big school. First of all, I get to be a teaching assistant, and I’m TA’ing a class I’m interested in: World Politics. What a great dry run to make sure I want to be an international relations professor. Another big university plus: I have free rein over my research and thesis hours, giving me ample opportunity to start developing my master’s thesis. The library is huge, and VT has access to so many journals and books that RMWC just lacked. And finally, the gym! It’s amazing! There are actually two gyms, both with pools. When I first started going I figured it was the place I’d be most likely to bump into another Miss Virginia girl but I still thought the chances would be pretty small at such a large school, so imagine my surprise when I bumped into Sonya Milstead 45 minutes into my workout! And one more thing I’m coming to love about Blacksburg: the buses. I’m saving so much money on gas. I love that the VT students have prepaid bus use!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's a slow time in the pageant world, and it coincided perfectly with a much-needed break for me! The past few weeks have been crazy, and there is no indication that the next few weeks are going to slow down!

Political news has been abundant, however, and I have several posts in the works about the recents news over the vice presidential pick and the convention. I've just started a new school, though, and I'm without internet connected on the home front. I'm anxious to get started on my school work, too! I'm still unpacking into my new apartment and adjusting to my new surroundings and hope to be back in the swing of things soon, but for now I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of my apartment and the business of the new campus!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Exciting news

this week was a victory for my favorite Summer Games athlete, Phil Dalhausser, and one of my favorite politicians, Joe Biden. I'm on my way back to Virginia and ready to blog!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where have I been?

You may have been wondering where I've been lately.

Well, last week I had to completely pack up my old apartment, check out the remaining group on campus, rent a truck to move (nightmare, which I'll share sometime later) and then move to my new home. Thanks to Jimmy (director of the year award, easily) the moving in process was much easier than loading up. It took me all of Wednesday night to load up the truck but it only took us two hours to unload! Then I came back, packed the remaining stuff in my car, and drove again to Blacksburg to stay the night. The next morning at 5:30 I got up to drive home to Ohio and made it back by the afternoon.

So, after a summer involving Miss Virginia, working two jobs totaling 60-70 hours per week, I am completely enjoying the brief week and a half vacation that I get before becoming a full time graduate student! I am so excited about my new apartment and it's the most space I've ever had!

Well, be patient while I enjoy my break!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Miss Central Virginia

Tonight I had the chance to go watch Miss Central VA in Charlottesville. This was a really great pageant and one of those pageants where any girl would have been a great titleholder. I went with Katie Uze and Shannon Oliver and we had no idea how the judges picked a winner out of such a great group! That said, all three of us were screaming for Maddie the entire night and jumped out of our seats when she was named the winner.

I do have pictures from the pageant, but please keep in mind that 1) the girls moved very quickly. 2) i was seated quite far back and my zoom came out blurry quite a bit 3) the people in front of me kept leaning in to talk to one another and I would completely miss a girls evening gown/swimsuit presentation. So, some pictures are blurry, and occasionally I don't have any pictures of a girls presentation! Some girls moved around so much for talent that I was unable to get any good pictures! Also, I don't claim to be any Julius, so of course the quality is not great! It's hard to take pictures when you are cheering people on and watching their performance, and I'm amazed I got any pictures of Maddie's crowning at all! I'm staying up late to make sure Shannon gets back to VB safely, so I'm deciding to share these pictures!

Just a note: all of these girls were great contestants and I ask that in sharing my pictures, that they not be used to pick any contestant apart. All of the girls did a wonderful job and we all know the confidence it takes to be on that stage. Every one of them was outstanding. Please enjoy the pictures; I know the quality isn't great but something is better than nothing, right?

It was a great pageant and wonderful to see Miss Virginia friends! Congrats to Maddie, who has been and will continue to be a wonderful titleholder for the Miss Virginia organization! So proud of you, and now you can kick back and enjoy your senior year of college without the stress of competing in pageants every weekend!

Miss Central VA: Maddie Van Duyne
1st Runner Up: Sara Rose
2nd Runner Up: Lindsay Morris
3rd Runner Up: Malissa Sibley
4th Runner Up: Katelyn Sexton
Competition Photos:

Announcement of winners and post-pageant

Miss Belle of the Blue Ridge

Today I had the opportunity (well, I guess it would be yesterday now, since I'm posting after midnight) to have a pageant filled day! I judged the Miss Belle of the Blue Ridge pageant in Nelson County. This was only half my day, but it was a lot of fun and I got to see several of the ladies who competed for the Miss Spirit of Hill City/Commonwealth titles a few weeks earlier. It's always great to get to speak to their parents and families about the Miss Virginia Organization and what it's done for me. Thanks to Carolyn Dolan and Deborah Berry for letting me in on this opportunity!

And the winners are:

Wee Miss: Alyson Ponton
Tiny Miss: Mia Garrett
Little Miss: Kelsey Coleman
Preteen Miss: Amanda Pippin
Teen Miss: Kristina Ryan
Miss: Candace Wilson

Congrats ladies!

Since I took so many photos today, I'm using a slideshow to share them!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Quick Update

As I mentioned in my "important news" section, today is a pageant-filled day for me! I promise to take pictures of all the events and post them here later this evening, depending on when I get back!