Meet Pareena G. Lawrence, Hollins President!

Pareena G. Lawrence became the 12th President of Hollins University in July 2017. During the same summer, the book she coauthored, Life Histories of Women Panchayat Sarpanches from Haryana, India, was published. The book considers stories of elected women leaders in villages across India. Her life, research, and professional accomplishments have elevated and continue to support women in her community and around the world.

Lawrence grew up in India. Her childhood was filled with a lot of rules and things she couldn’t do, and the only reason she wasn’t allowed to do them was simply, “because she was a girl.” The fact that women were so confined in her society sparked her eagerness for change.

“Changing the world and rules seemed wrong became a passion of mine at a very young age,” she recalls.

After she finished college in India, at the University of Delhi, she followed her friend’s lead and applied to some grad schools in the states. In the education department of the US embassy, she looked through pamphlets of colleges and wrote to them asking for applications. She found that continuing her education in America would be the best option for two reasons. The first was that she heard a PhD in America could be finished in a more reasonable time frame than in India. Second, she was surrounded by family in India that, sooner or later, were going to start to push her towards marriage, and she wanted to have her education completed before thought of marriage.

Two years she after she graduated from her University in India, Lawrence started at Purdue to work towards her PhD. She decided to take an education job while there was the hiring freeze in her intended field, international development. She planned to go back and apply for a job in that field after the hiring freeze was lifted. However, Lawrence found that education was the perfect place to put her passion for change. She thought her impact would be larger through higher education. She explains, “The most important thing for me to do was to help prepare [this] generation to be change agents of the world.”

Her last job before coming to Hollins University was the Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs, a Augustana College. When asked why she took a job with Hollins, President Lawrence recalled her time at an all-women’s school she attended in India.

“The whole idea of ‘of course I can do anything’ and self-confidence came from that all-girl environment,” she explains.

This feeling stuck with her throughout various career positions in her life, so when she was offered the job at Hollins she already believed in their mission.

“I strongly believe that this education we have at Hollins and the environment we have is transformative,” Lawrence says. She also believes that, at an institution like Hollins, the students strive to be the best they can be and the support systems give them a chance to believe in themselves.

President Lawrence is a big believer in the importance of a liberal arts education, not just for women, but for all genders. To her, it works so well in a women’s institution because people are willing to take more risk in a place they feel safe and supported. For more information on President Lawrence and her accomplishments, visit

Written by Lilith Turman

The Next Literary Voices: Cara Hadden

It’s a classic story. A group of possessed marshmallows unleashes havoc on a small town in California. You’ve heard it before, right? Probably not. This type of atypical idea can only come from an inventive mind with a Roald Dahl sense of humor.

This story of marshmallow mayhem came from a mind in Virginia’s Spotsylvania County, just outside of Fredericksburg. This brave mind isn’t afraid to invent strange stories about sugary snacks. In a world where book readership is shrinking, it’s the kind of mind that just might be the future of books. It’s the mind of Cara Hadden.

“The worst kind of failure is to not try at all,” Cara explains when talking about writing and the fear criticism.

This sounds like an old proverb from a tattered library book or a piece of advice a grandparent might rattle off over dinner. It’s a thought of a person who has experienced life and its fickle fate.

But Cara’s not a grandparent or even an adult. She’s a 15-year-old freshman at Chancellor High School, and she understands failure and loss in a way most teens do not. I certainly wasn’t spouting Confucius-like quotes in high school. Like many, in my teens, my problems were more of the self-created melodrama variety.

This was not so for Cara.

There is an old saying that artists must suffer for their art. Whether this is true or not is debatable. In Cara’s case, from suffering an artist was born.

When Cara was just over a year old, her father was diagnosed with brain cancer. He battled the disease for ten years, passing away in 2014 when Cara was eleven and had just started middle school. Cara could have channeled her grief into any number of noble causes. Barely a decade old, it would have been understandable if she did nothing more than get up in the morning, hug her mother and grandmother, and go to school.

A few months after her father’s death, as part of an in-class assignment, Cara wrote a time travel story about a boy living during a nuclear war, based on a prompt titled, “Another Time, Another Place.” By the end of class, Cara’s story was not complete. She had more to say. Her teacher allowed her to finish the story at home. The next day, she returned to class with 9-pages of prose and a realization. She wanted to be a writer.

Armed with this new purpose, in 7th grade, Cara wrote another story, a very personal about her father’s life, including his four years in the Army’s 82nd and his battle with cancer.

“Even though he knew he was dying, he dealt with life as it came, and always had a positive attitude. That is one of the most heroic things that anyone could ever do,” Cara says of her father.

It wasn’t an easy story for Cara to write. Despite the fear of judgment not just of her writing, but of her representation of her father, Cara submitted the story to a writing contest. It won. She placed 2nd in the 2015 Spotsylvania County Teen Veteran’s Day Writing Contest.

Cara didn’t just write it to heal herself. She wrote it help heal others.

“Maybe other teens who have gone through similar experiences as me can be comforted by my words,” Cara says of the story.

What is clear about Cara is that her young mind understands a fundamental truism in writing. Whether it is marshmallows springing to life, memorializing her father or historical romances, writing is about connections. It’s about creating something that cuts through the confusion and pain to reach another person.

Perhaps Cara understands this because she has known suffering. But there is more to Cara than loss. To talk to her is to talk to a vibrant young woman who oozes potential and positivity. She’s a girl whose love of musical theater causes her to break into song in the middle of the day. She easily admits to her clumsiness while downplaying her obvious talents. Not only has she won writing contests, she has also starred as Ariel in a school production of The Little Mermaid. She’s a real, complex girl who has the same worries as most teens.

“At times I struggle with the normal fears that come with being fifteen, like fitting in and meeting new people,” Cara admits.

Cara describes herself as an imaginative, God-loving, intelligent, performer and bibliophile. She left out an important descriptor, likely a symptom of her humility. Cara is a writer. She’s not the kind of teen writer who scribbles a few lines in notebooks and hides them in a drawer, collecting cobwebs and dreaming of the day she sees her stories in print.

At 15, Cara is already an award-winning writer and soon to be published. Her story called The Letter, which is loosely based on her grandparents’ love story, was chosen to be part of an anthology from her writing group, the Riverside Young Writers, part of the Virginia Writers’ Club.

She credits the writing group with giving her a safe space to share her work and recommends potential writers join a writing group or create one.

“I cannot recommend joining a writing group highly enough. It is such an amazing opportunity because you get to be in an accepting environment with other kids around your age who share the same love of writing that you possess,” Cara says.

Cara and her story serve as a lesson for any girl or woman who wants to follow her dreams. You cannot let tragedy or difficulty stop you. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can do.

Written by Kristin Kanes

Pardon Muah: Trends for Spring!

Is it that time already?! Time for spring cleaning and setting a date for a good ole’ fashion closet clean-out. Yes, it might take you a full weekend to get everything ship shape (okay, maybe two weekends), but in the end, it means lots of room for new clothing and accessories! This is the perfect time to add in new trends and a fresh color palette. Remember, there are several items you may want to have on hand year-round like camis & tanks, white tees, lightweight knits, jeans, and a legging or two. You never know when temperatures will fluctuate! And don’t pack or throw away your neutrals… those will always be seasonally appropriate.

Lately, I’ve been crushing on several trends and love when one piece of clothing can combine with more than one outfit. Bell sleeves, pops of pink, off the shoulder, ruffles, and oversize knits are some of my favorites. The olive gilded ruffle hem bell sleeve top shown meshes two of my favorites! The detailing works well for a casual look with jeans and mules, or can easily be dressed up with a skinny pant, a pump, and a statement earring. I decided on a mix of casual and dressy with a flared jean and a pink heel.

You may be wondering now if flared jeans are really back in style… and yes they are! It’s another trend I just can’t get enough of with a shape that helps bring proportion to the body. The pair shown is by STS Blue and under $60, making them incredibly affordable. Other retailers to check out for bell bottom inspired denim are Nordstrom and Express. I highly recommend adding a pair to your closet if you don’t already have some!

If you hadn’t already figured it out from last month’s edition, I’m obsessed with a pink pump and colored aviator–a winning combo! I love them worn with a bright top, because of the fun color contrast. Vivid colors (and a mix of lighter hues and patterns) will be all the rage this coming season. Lots of yellows, pinks, and mint mixed with navys and whites. You could even wear this bell sleeve top with colored shorts and sandals as the weather warms up!

For trendy items, I always try to keep price points in check (this top was less than $50). One of my favorite local retailers for affordable and stylish pieces is H&M because they offer so many great finds and a wide range of styles.

To find out more about this season’s hottest trends and for more outfit and beauty inspiration, head to my blog Pardon Muah ( or check out my Instagram @pardonmuahinsta.

xo – Amanda

Be Your Best Athletic Self!

In our country’s constant weight loss craze, it is easy to forget that there is more to exercise than the number shown on the bathroom scale. Being FIT is a goal everyone can aspire to, and here are some focus points to help you get there: FIT = Function, Intensity, Time!

Function: As spring begins to bloom, think about your favorite activities! Are you a hiker? A runner? A rock climber? Are you seeking more energy to accomplish your household tasks? Well then, being functional is important. In other words, prepare your body for the motion your activity requires. As a fitness professional, one thing that drives me nuts is watching people weight-train in a stationary position. Life doesn’t happen in one spot! Vary it up! Stagger the stance of your feet while doing arm and shoulder exercises. Try your squat exercises on one leg. Alternate your arms while doing rows; alternate your feet while doing push-ups! Remember: walking, running, and climbing usually happen one leg or one arm at a time. It is beneficial to, at times, train in the same manner. Keep this in mind while doing simple household tasks, such as bending down to pick up the laundry! You can equate this same action to doing sumo-squats or lunge-reaches in the gym. The majority of your activities aren’t done in a “stand-still” position. So, neither should your training.

Intensity: The intensity is the level of demand an activity places on your body. But don’t think of it too seriously! There are several ways to achieve this in your training. Try switching up the tempo! Monitor the speed at which you normally exercise: Is it quite monotone? Or, are you hopping around like a rabbit? Before you increase the overall time you spend exercising, change the tempo! Try a slower pace with isometric holds at the end of your movement.  For example: hold a push-up at the bottom to check your posture tightness. Then, try a more dynamic and explosive pace. Steadily increase the velocity of your jump-squat to increase your heart rate. Vary your tempo and intensity; keep your body guessing and wanting more!

Time: Remember ‘once upon a time’ when you were (if not still) single? You know how people said that you would find “the one” when you stopped looking? How annoying those people were (and right!). Well, my goal right now is to be equally as annoying and right! What if you begin to look at your fitness that way, and quit obsessing over the results? Give yourself the time you need to be your best FIT self. This means consistency along with patience. Stay in the moment! Enjoy your exercise and aim to be better at it each day. Don’t compare your performance or your body to others. Yes, we should all gain inspiration, but without comparison. This will make the improvement process that much more rewarding! You are a beautiful design. Know that whatever your body-type is, you can be heart-healthy, train athletically, and look fabulous! Give yourself the time to improve each day, and love yourself in the process.

Written by Bryan Christon

Save Smarter: Spring Clean Your Finances

Put the shivering cold behind you and look ahead to warmer temperatures. Spring is coming! But this time of year isn’t just about rain showers and blooming flowers—it’s time for some spring cleaning, which includes tidying up your finances. Follow these tips to de-clutter your financial life and give you a fresh start for spring.

Close dormant accounts. A financial institution will typically send you a notification if you have an open account that hasn’t been accessed for a set amount of time. If you don’t plan on using the account, close it as soon as possible. This ensures that you’ll avoid any dormant account fees and recoup any remaining funds. It also helps simplify your finances by reducing the number of accounts you have to monitor, which makes maintaining your household budget easier.

Check your credit report and fix any discrepancies. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year, which can be accessed by visiting You’ll receive a report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Review them to make sure the information looks familiar. If you see something you don’t recognize, like an account you didn’t open, contact the bureau directly to address the discrepancy.

Go paperless and set up automatic bill pay. If you find yourself tossing aside paper account statements, opt to receive electronic statements instead. Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll reduce clutter and receive your account information faster. Another way to reduce clutter and increase efficiency is to set up automatic bill pay, which can typically be done through your financial institution’s online banking system. This will help eliminate your chances of missing a payment and being charged a late fee.

Organize and shred financial documents. Save it or shred it? Experts recommend keeping tax-related documents for seven years, which should cover you in case of an audit. If you’re a homeowner, keep documents related to the purchase of your home, records from any major improvements, and mortgage paperwork. Things like receipts and bills can be safely shred once they clear your account. Rather than piling financial paperwork in one place to deal with later, set up a filing system so you can quickly store what you need to keep and shred what you don’t.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union


Women’s History Month: Brenda Hale

March is Women’s History Month. Although women have come a long way since the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 and the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965, we still have a long way to go on the path to equality. This means equality that does not discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, or religion. Locally, there are many amazing women who are working hard to eradicate the practices that lead to oppression in these areas. What they have in common is a shared desire to help individuals in a community come together, care for one another, and help each other succeed. This month, we’d like to focus on one of those women specifically: Roanoke NAACP President, Brenda Hale.

Hale has had a passion for helping others since she was nine years old. Raised by her great uncle and aunt in Bridgeport, Connecticut, she went everywhere with them as a child.

“They taught me everything. I like to help people, and she taught me how to take pride in my work. No matter what you do, no matter what you become, be the best you can be,” she recalls.

That is a lesson Hale has carried with her throughout her life. As a veteran and a nurse, she has always been a resource for the people around her. It is no surprise that her history of helping others led her to the critical roles she plays today. From sit-ins at Bob Goodlatte’s office calling for action to strengthen voter protections to an appearance at the first Women’s March in 2017, Hale illustrates that she truly cares about the people she meets and represents.

Around the Roanoke Valley, and the nation, we are all beginning to have difficult conversations involving the qualities that make us all unique human beings. We don’t always meet people who agree with us, but it is possible to work towards solutions with those people. Hale approaches those discussions like peeling back the layers of an onion.

“Once you peel back the first layer, there is something of substance underneath. You may start out with socioeconomic conditions, but you’re going to hit other layers. One of those layers will be racism. One will be education. There are so many layers to what is going on right now, and you constantly have to be peeling them back. I’m not afraid to peel back the layers and have the conversations we need to move forward,” she explains.

Although it may seem easier to avoid those conversations, that attitude can often cause more damage than the discomfort is worth. One of the dangers of complacency is that these issues continue to be swept under the rug until resentment reaches a boiling point. People often reference Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech when they call for peace. Hale wants them to know that there are multiple facets to that dream.

“It may have started out with economic empowerment and the right to vote. The thing of the matter is each community needs to be the beloved community he talked about. Everyone needs to be working. It can’t take just one person. It takes all of us being willing to have talks and dialogue and to work on those multiple layers,” she adds.

Perhaps this is most eloquently represented in Dr. King’s own family, and with one of Hale’s role models, Coretta Scott King.

“[She] was the glue who held her family together. Women have always been that. She was a mother, wife; she had to be a doctor, nurse, and a psychologist. If you’re taking care of the whole family you have to wear a lot of hats. She was a civil rights icon. She stepped it up further, and she loved people,” Hale says.

Hale continues to exhibit many of those qualities in her own life. At 72 years old, she is not slowing down. She is still a caregiver, and well respected within the region for community service. Additionally, she is serving her seventh term as the President of the Roanoke NAACP, and she remains actively invested in each member, especially the young people.

“We work as a team, the the Youth Council is our shining baby. We have almost 85 now, and every year we graduate about 30-34 kids. We keep filling it back up,” she says.

The Roanoke youth who participate in this program hold offices, attend quarterly meetings, and go to state and national conventions. They are allowed to wear Kente cloth stoles when they graduate.

“It doesn’t matter what you do after high school. You can go to college, the military, into a trade; whatever you decide to do, you walk into it as a leader. All I do is sit back and keep smiling. That’s our babies, look what we’ve done for our babies,” she explains.

And they are doing a lot. The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program is popular among the kids in the Roanoke NAACP unit. The yearlong achievement program is designed to “recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.” It includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing, visual, and culinary arts. The Roanoke NAACP ( holds a local competition for ACT-SO every year, and members often go on to compete and win medals at the national level. A few years ago, one participant brought a tuxedo with him, because he knew he was going to win.

“When he walked up on stage to receive his medal, he was the only one in a tux,” Hale recalls, smiling. “His confidence was amazing!”

Her smile lights up the room when she talks about these teenagers, recalling many by more than their name. She can tell you their interests, accomplishments, and the last time she saw or hugged them.

Hale is a role model for women (and men!) of all ages. Her willingness and ability to work with individuals and groups of diverse cultural, religious, social, economic, and political identities helps address tough issues that many women face on a daily basis. We are proud that she is part of the Roanoke community, and look forward to seeing more of her in 2018!

There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Women’s History Month, including International Women’s Day on March 8! Visit for more information on how you can be involved in their call-to-action and the effort to progress gender parity. Within the movement, there is “a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act, and be gender inclusive.”

While you’re working towards gender parity, make sure you are also staying informed on factors that affect others on the struggle to equality such as race, socioeconomic conditions, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Step outside your comfort zone and learn more about an issue that may not personally impact you. Doing so is a great way to honor those who came before us, and pave the way to a better future for every generation to come.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Women’s History Month: Notable Women Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Women’s History Month: Notable Women Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Since the founding of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), nearly 550 innovators have been honored for their contributions to making our world a better place through their patented inventions. In conjunction with Women’s History Month in March, NIHF celebrates the accomplishments of women Inductees in the Hall of Fame.

NIHF is Inducting three women inventors in its 2018 Class. On May 3, Sumita Mitra (Nanocomposite Dental Materials), Jacqueline Quinn (Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron), and Mary Engle Pennington (Food Preservation and Storage) will be Inducted as part of The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation®.

(l to r: Jaqueline Quinn, Mary Engle Pennington, Sumita Mitra)

Other notable past women Inductees include:

Mary Anderson, Windshield Wiper (1866-1953; Inducted in 2011)  While touring New York City in a trolley car on a snowy day in the early 1900s, Anderson conceived her idea of a windshield wiper blade that could be operated from the inside by the trolley driver. Her idea consisted of a lever inside the vehicle that controlled a spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade. With her 1903 patent, Anderson’s invention proved to be the first windshield-clearing device to be effective.

Frances Arnold, Directed Evolution of Enzymes (Inducted in 2014)  Arnold is a pioneer of directed evolution, a process for “breeding” scientifically interesting or technologically useful proteins by mutating and recombining their DNA sequences and screening for desired properties. Arnold’s methods are used for developing new biological routes to making pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, consumer chemicals and biofuels.

Stephanie Kwolek, Kevlar® Fiber (1923-2014; Inducted in 1995)  Thousands of police officers and armed forces members can attest to the value of Kwolek’s breakthrough research in para-aramid fibers. The fruits of her work can be found in lightweight bullet-resistant vests, mooring ropes, fiber-optic cables, aircraft parts and canoes. Kevlar is a polymer fiber five times stronger than the same weight of steel.

Frances Ligler, Portable Optical Biosensors (Inducted in 2017)  A biosensor is a device using biological molecules to detect a chemical or biological target. Ligler is recognized for her innovative application of emerging technologies in a variety of fields to make optical biosensors smaller, more versatile and more automated. Thanks to her work, biosensors have moved out of the laboratory and into use for food safety, disease diagnosis, pollution control and homeland security.

More information on Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame is available at .

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is the premier nonprofit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate. For more information, visit To nominate an inventor for Induction,

March Happenings

On Thursday, March 8 at 7:30pm, Dervish, a traditional Irish septet band, is performing in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. Dervish has been playing traditional Irish music for over 25 years, and are well known for their live performances. The lively music is their interpretation of traditional Irish songs; their music can be upbeat and fast or thoughtful and slow. Dervish has played all over the world, even from the Great Wall of China! If you’re looking for a new way to experience Irish culture this March check out Dervish. To learn more about this event and purchase tickets visit

Look for some family friendly fun this March? Come out to Virginia Western Community College for movie screenings that will be shown at the Whitman Theater in the Business Science Building. On Friday, March 2, at 2pm and again at 6pm the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(PG-13) will be showing. Then on Friday, March 16, at 2pm and then later at 6pm the college will be showing Star Wars–The Last Jedi(PG-13). All showings are free and open to the public. You are welcome to bring your own snacks, but are asked not to leave a mess. For more information, go to

On March 17, get ready for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival! The parade starts at 11am on Elm Ave then to Campbell Ave and finishes on Williamson Road. This is event is kid-friendly, from 12pm-5pm two free Kid Zones will be set up. In front of the Taubman Museum and in the Market Square children will be able to enjoy face painting, inflatables, games, and so much more!  The Shamrock Festival starts on noon that day at the Wells Fargo Plaza. Admission is free and this event will include live music and adult beverages. Check out for more information.

Opera Roanoke presents Puccini’s La Boheme in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. On Friday, April 6 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, April 8 at 3pm, this Italian opera spread over four acts comes to Roanoke’s stage. Follow a group of struggling artists through love, laughs, and loss in 19th Century Paris. The iconic role of Mimi is to be performed by Chelsea Bonagura, who has won awards in Charlotte Opera Guild Competition and the Rosen-Schaffer Completion. For more information and to buy your tickets go to

Written by Lilith Turman

The regional magazine for women