Tuesday, March 31, 2009

music artists I don't want to Hear From Again

I've been trying to figure out for some time how I wanted to address the Chris Brown situation, but in light of something separate that happened yesterday, I couldn't resist writing about him and another artist I have no desire to hear on the radio- or ever-again.

I've had it with Chris Brown. Shortly after the Rihanna incident, I was pleased with some of the celebrities who stepped forward and stated that his behavior was unacceptable, but in true Hollywood style they all backed off from their original reactions. Judge Judy was recently on Larry King arguing that Chris Brown has an "anger management" problem. Has he ever attacked his manager? Picked a fight in a bar with another guy? Lost it with his publicist? No- but he had problems controlling his anger around a female. This is not an "anger management" problem. This is an abuse problem- and it will happen again. An anger management problem is decidedly different from beating your girlfriend to a pulp and then claiming "self-defense." (By the way, the handling of the situation was TRULY manly, Chris. Can you sense my sarcasm?) Stand up for what you really did, and that fact that it's wrong. What disgusts me about this situation is that I know there's something going on behind the scenes-someone who has encouraged them to get back together, record a duet together, and try to make things work. And perhaps some of that decision has been Rihanna's. This will not be the last time.

Let's take a little trip back to 2004. You know what this reminds me of?

Bobby Brown will have to go on trial on charges of slapping Whitney Houston, a judge ruled Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. No trial date was set, and a court clerk said it could be as long as a year before it takes place, a court clerk told AP. The singer, who was warned on Wednesday not to have ''violent contact'' with Houston, will have to turn himself in for fingerprinting in July, and submit $2,000 in bail.

Brown and Houston smiled at each other in court, and left the hearing together, according to AP. Brown's charges stem from Dec. 7, when Houston claimed that Brown ''struck the left side of her face with an open right hand,'' a police report said. Brown has denied the charges, telling Dateline NBC that if he had really hit Houston, ''It would be more than just a little cut on the lip."

Abuse, deny, justify

Can anyone tell me why it's "okay" when this happens to female public figures? Both men here are using the strategy I listed above- abuse, deny, justify. And the incidents will happen again. By letting them off the hook in the public, it is just as bad as judges not taking violence seriously. After all, apparently a "little cut on the lip" just shouldn't qualify!

In the interim, I also turn off the radio anytime I hear Chris Brown. I have deleted him from my Ipod and don't want to hear any of his new songs. There will be many people who say "one person can't make a difference", but for the short term, I just don't want to hear his music.

On to my second artist I don't want to hear from.

On Mondays you'll find me in Blacksburg Middle School volunteering with the AWARE program. We're a group of girls from VT that go in and talk to 7th grade girls about self-esteem, alcohol, drugs, self-destructive behavior, and other issues affecting young teens. Time and again we have been surprised by how young these women are facing challenges that we either never encountered or didn't see until high school. Another Miss Virginia contestant is also part of this program as well as several girls from the VT community.

Yesterday we were talking about the dangers of alcohol and we each shared a story about someone we knew who got into trouble, passed away, or took the life of someone else because of the effects of alcohol. The girls all had a story, too, and it was obvious that while many teens choose to drink, many teens are also negatively impacted by alcoholism and drunk driving.

Towards the end of our session, one of the girls asked Stephanie and I if we had heard the Asher Roth song "I love College". I'm generally a big fan of my local radio station, but I will either call the station to complain or turn off my radio when this song comes on. I have never heard a song so full of stereotypes and so unlike my college experience.

Here's an excerpt from some of the lyrics from Mr. Roth's song:

That party last night was awfully crazy I wish we taped it
I danced my a** off and had this one girl completely naked
Drink my beer and smoke my weed but my good friends is all I need

Don't even bounce, not in my house
Better hope you make it otherwise you naked
Time isn't wasted when you're getting wasted

I can't tell you what I learned from school but
I could tell you a story or two, um
Yeah, of course I learned some rules
Like don't pass out with your shoes on
(Get the Sharpie!)

And don't leave the house 'til the booze gone

In this short song I'm sure the band thinks is a funny joke, they've referenced drugs, passing out, getting wasted, making a goal to "get people naked", and the fact that they learned nothing in college. As someone who put herself through four years of a grueling liberal arts education, it frustrates me that this song makes college seem like a joke. And maybe there are some people out there who think it's funny- maybe there are some people who feel like this DOES describe their college experience, and that's unfortunate. I am sure Mr. Roth is excited that his song is being played every once in a while on the top radio stations and even requested by people.

But I wonder, did he ever consider that a 13 year old girl who has just shared that her family has a history of alcoholism and she's scared of killing someone like her uncle did would ask two college girls "Is college really like that?" with a big smile on her face? Did he ever consider that younger people who aren't interested in Hannah Montana might be tuning into the local station and hear that song and think that's what they have to look forward to? In a nation full of peer pressure, is it really fair to categorize the college experience as one you'll never remember because you were some combination of high, naked, or drunk? That wasn't my college experience and I don't think it should have to be anyone's. I love college, too, Mr. Roth, but if you ever earned a degree it makes mine a little less meaningful.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last weeks Girl Scout meeting

The weekend before this last one I went to a girl scout meeting with one of my favorite troops in Blacksburg. They are just finishing up selling Girl Scout cookies and for once the weather outside was nice! Here in Blacksburg we can easily go from a snowstorm to a sunny day within 48 hours, so you have to be prepared for anything! We had a meeting to talk about self-esteem and the importance of how you treat others, and then I was brought back to my own childhood playing four square, climbing the monkey bars (on which I was so tall I didn't even have to hang...) and taking pictures of the girls, which is one of their favorite things. I had so much fun and it was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Farewell to a great man

Sorry for the lack of blogging, I have been so busy it's hard to keep up! So I am trying to share with you my experiences, one piece at a time! So first up is the shortest to write about. Last Sunday I was in Lynchburg for a retirement reception at RMWC for one of my favorite professors of all time, Dr. Ivy. Dr. Ivy and his wife, Dr. Judy Ivy, have given 31 years of service running the University of Reading program in England. Many of my readers know that this experience in my life was one of the most important for me. While many people say that study abroad was very important to them, it meant a lot to me because it was during that year I changed my career plans to becoming a professor. A large part of that career change was having professors like Dr. Ivy- who are incredibly passionate about what they do day in and day out. Dr. Ivy allowed me to fulfill my economics credits and simultaneously write a 20 page term paper on the side about the works of Charlotte Bronte (a favorite of mine!). It was during this year that I really decided that teaching and the world of academic was for me. I also know that were it not for Dr. Ivy and my two incredible professors from Reading who all recommended me for graduate school that I would not be in the position I am today. They all gave me faith to pursue my dreams even though at times it has been a tough road forging ahead in a male-dominated field.

The program will simply not be the same without Dr. Ivy. Living in a foreign country for an entire year meant that the Ivys were like a second set of parents to all of us, and I greatly respect and admire them for all they have given to this school. I also respect the way they have stood by their beliefs about the turns that the school has taken in the last several years; the Ivys has always put academic achievement first.

It was also a great time to catch up because the Class of '08 had 6 Readingites present! Kassie is about to graduate with her Masters in accounting, Shannon just got a job with a defense contractor, Chloe is teaching English in Prague in the fall, Robin is getting her nursing degree and working at a nursing home, and Harmony is pursuing her dreams of fashion and sewing her own clothes! And yes, that's just a SMALL sample of the Randolph Macon women I graduated with! They are incredible!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Laura's Upcoming Events:

My upcoming Appearances


March 28th, 7:00 PM, Nelson County High School, Nelson County
Miss Nelson County Pageant
(Serving as a judge)

April 3rd, 8:00 PM Hotel Roanoke
Miss Commonwealth/Miss Virginia Dogwood Pageant
(Passing on the crown)

Private Events:
Virginia Tech AWARE, Monday March 30
Girl Scouts at Cloverdale Monday March 30
Giles County Rotary, April 3

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Glamour Girlz in Danville

As you can see from my many blog posts, I had three appearances this weekend. In the middle of the day, I was in Danville to participate in an event called Glamour Girlz. I have been working on this event for months and I am so happy it was a success. This idea was born out of an idea from the program directors daughter, and when I suggested doing a fashion show in late January, they let me run with it! I cannot say thank you enough to Belk, who let me use whatever clothes and shoes I wanted! Shane Markham, the manager, is an incredible and patient guy for letting me shop for hours last Tuesday and being so helpful. The goal of the fashion show was to show that every style, every body shape, and and every skin color is gorgeous and that every girl is beautiful inside and out. Let me tell you, if you ever think that a stylists job is easy, ask me! Trying to pick outfits to make 11 teenagers happy with matching shoes is NOT easy! But some of the girls loved the clothes so much that they tried to convince moms to go and buy them! My models were from a very special troop in Lynchburg that I have gotten very close to. Thank you so much to Suzanne and Elizabeth for being incredible girl scout leaders and keeping things so organized backstage!

The girls got to see what its like to be a real model- meaning that you have NO time to get changed, so Tara and I talked a little bit about our favorite appearances from the year. I have to say that now my favorite appearance is participating in this event. I am so glad it went well and I know this took so much work! The Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council is a wonderful Girl Scout Council and if you've been reading my blog for some time, you can tell they work very hard to put out great events for girls!

The girls also got to get autographs from Tara (and the line for that was VERY long!) and listen to Tara talk about self-esteem. Everyone knows that I think Tara Wheeler is one amazing Miss Virginia and leaves some big shoes to fill come June 27th, and I know she showed that to all the little girls there that day.

Jr Miss Pittsylvania County Pageant

This Saturday I had the privilege of judging the Jr. Miss Pittsylvania County Pageant in Chatham. I was amazed at the level of talent and speaking ability coming from these girls at all ages! There is a lot of talent in Pittsylvania County! I also finally had the chance to see the talented Lindsay Bowman perform and get to know her a little better and I am really looking forward to spending the week with her in Roanoke. Lindsay works for the Virginia House of Delegates so we definitely have politics in common!

I also got to watch Mati Anderson dance and hear Amanda Jones speak about what she's been up to since winning this pageant when she was in high school. Thank you to the Lovells for having me to judge! Congrats especially to Katelyn Dockery, the teen winner, who has competed in and placed in some Miss Virginia locals this year!

Lynchburg Bowl for Kids Sake

This weekend I had some very exciting events. I was asked to come be the celebrity bowler at the Lynchburg Bowl for Kids Sake. This event raises money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Virginia and I was able to participate in this event in college and had a great time. I want to thank Ash Gorman of BBBS for inviting me. After introducing myself and welcoming everyone, I had to throw out the first ball. With an entire bowling alley watching you and not having been bowling in over a year, you can imagine I was nervous about getting a gutter ball! But I was lucky enough to get a strike! I also want to thank Mati, Miss Hill City Outstanding Teen and Barbara Erb and her husband Craig and sons for coming to be a part of my bowling team. We had a great time!

What's Tara been up to?

I've had the pleasure of seeing Tara several times in the last few weeks. I'm going to be writing a blog entry soon to explain a little bit more about her new initiative after I share pictures from all my recent appearances. This week I visited Madison Van Duyne, Miss Central Virginia, and I watched Tara present at Collinsville Middle School. It was great to meet the kids and watch Tara in action.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Even though the economy isn't doing well, you can do something good! Tara Wheeler, our outstanding Miss Virginia, is raising money for pediatric cancer research by planning to shave her head if she raises $500,000. Now, the catch is that she has to hit that mark! So readers, I need your help to do it! Cancer doesn't care about the falling stock market, in fact, this horrible economy is probably affecting research donations and those families affected by cancer even more so! I don't care if you can only donate $5... please donate $5 and do it today! Then please forward this link to everyone that you know and ask them to do the same. We have a great opportunity here to support Tara's initiative.

Not only does this raise money for pediatric cancer research, Children's Miracle Network, and the Miss Virginia Scholarship Fund, it's raising crucial awareness about Miss Virginia/Miss America and the kinds of things we as titleholders REALLY do. It's not all about glamour, glitz and swimsuits, and Tara has been proving that all year long. I KNOW how many people read this blog, and I know that each of you surely has $10 to give! Please consider making the donation and encouraging those people you know via email, facebook, blogs, or in person to do the same.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Girl Scout Meeting 3/9

tonight I had the pleasure of speaking to great Girl Scout Troop that I'm going to be helping earn a badge over the next few months! It was great to get to meet them and spend time with them. As you can tell from the pictures, these girls are sassy!

Miss Alexandria Results

The weekend I traveled to Northern Virginia to watch the Miss Alexandria pageant and spend some time with Shannon Oliver. As many people know, Shannon and I became very close while we were roommates last year at Miss Virginia and we are close friends now! I am very sad that she's not competing at Miss Virginia this year, although I look forward to watching her perform at Busch Gardens sometime this summer.

This pageant was full of talent and the contestants were amazing! The in between entertainment was some of the best I have seen all season long- all three performers were outstanding! Several performers were incredible singers and one man delivered an original poem about beauty. It was really unique and well done. I applaud this director for finding such great talent in the Alexandria area!

It was also a thrill to watch Erika Thomas win this title. Erika Thomas was a runner up several times last year and was my first runner up at Miss Commonwealth. She is a very intelligent and sweet girl and I am looking forward to spending the week with her in Roanoke!

This week I have some really exciting appearances and I promise photos from all of them!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Girl Scouts, 3/6

Tonight I met with a local Girl Scout Cadette troop to talk about self esteem and answer ALL kinds of questions! It was great to meet with them, thanks to Heather and Gabe for having me!

I have such a busy week ahead of me! It's VT's spring break, but there is no rest for a grad student! I have many meetings, midterm grading for the class I help teach, and some very exciting appearances coming up next weekend! I am helping to plan a fashion show with a very special Girl Scout troop in Lynchburg; the show will be presented March 14th at a Girl Scout event in Danville to show that everyone is beautiful and that the way you present yourself is most important. I am so excited about this event. The fashion show was part of a brainstorm I had a few months ago I am so grateful to have been given such "free reign" over this great program! I am so excited about going to the event as well as my other appearances that day. I promise to check in soon. I'll be at Miss Alexandria this weekend and I promise to post pictures from there, too! Best of luck to all the girls!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Upcoming girl Scout event

I know I have a fair amount of Girl Scout readers out there. If your troop is interested in attending this day long event in Danville, I highly encourage it! I'll be presenting workshops about fashion and Tara Wheeler, Miss Virginia, will be speaking, too! This is a GREAT event. We're going to have a fashion show at the end with some great girls from the Lynchburg area that I have worked with this year and the entire day will be centered upon workshops for the girls! It's going to be a really exciting event about putting your best foot forward. The Danville mall has been extremely generous and the cost is $20 and that includes lunch.

For more info, check out the link here. The "Bring a friend" requirement has been relaxed to allow for as many girls to participate as possible. It's on March 14th!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pageant Results

Last night I attended the Miss Smith Mountain Lake pageant. Congratulations to the new winner, Chinah Helmondollar! Chinah was 4th runner up and preliminary swimsuit winner at Miss Virginia last year.

In eastern Virginia, Tamika Mills, another veteran, won the title of Miss Coastal Virginia! Tamika is a lot of fun to be around and I'm glad she'll be back at Miss VA.

A newcomer, Bethany Munt, won the title of Miss Greater Springfield in Northern Virginia.