H Marie

H Marie Williams graduated from the University of Virginia in 2006 where she received her undergraduate degree in Education, with a focus on Sports Medicine.

Story by: Michelle Cho

During her first year of college in New York City, H. Marie Williams found herself in quite the predicament. Having been instructed by her professor to write a paper on how people learn information in a storytelling format, she decided to recount her New York City subway experience through poetry. Eventually, the professor returned everyone’s graded papers, but pulled Williams aside into her office. To Williams’ shock, the professor began questioning whether or not she had plagiarized her work due to the profoundness of what she had written as just a 19-year-old.

After a short personal investigation, the professor could not find any “original” sources for Willams’ work, and proceeded to give her an A without any apology. Iris got an opportunity to read this very poem, and spoke with Williams about her work as a writer and activist, as well as her upcoming event with U.Va.’s Black Alumni Weekend.


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Virginia Festival of the Book

Story by: Camille Kidwell

 The Virginia Festival of the Book is an exciting event that brings local, literary scholars great joy each year.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, an organization that seeks to inspire cultural engagement and intellectual curiosity within the citizens of Virginia, funds this special occasion. Since its inception in 1974, the VFH has created more than 40,000 humanities programs that serve throughout the globe.

On March 20, I had the opportunity to attend one of the many events that the festival sponsored, the MFA Alumni Reading.  Hosted by the U.Va. MFA Creative Writing Program, four authors read from their most recent work to a small audience at the University of Virginia Bookstore. The four readers were each alumni of the MFA program here at U.Va.


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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

View of the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Story and photos by: Kelsey McKeon

Third Year Women Girls and Global Justice intern Kelsey McKeon describes her experiences living in the Middle East for her intern project as a part of the Women’s Center’s International Women’s Month.

As the oldest child of a State Department diplomat, moving has been a defining part of my upbringing.

I was fortunate enough to finish out high school in Stockholm, Sweden, where my family was stationed from 2009 until the summer of 2012. After spending more than half of my 18 years of life in four different countries, I knew a move was coming, and that our third and final year in Stockholm was coming to a close.

But I did not think that the move would be to Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I had only dabbled in transnational feminism while in high school, and though I had never studied the Middle East I knew that the Kingdom was notorious for their strict and oppressive treatment of women, more so than any other country in the region. I knew that after living in Stockholm, a European capital known around the world for its social liberalism and subzero temperatures, that moving to Saudi Arabia’s desert capital would be a very pronounced change.

However, being afflicted with a severe case of senioritis and convinced that this move would hardly affect me, I said goodbye to my family in August 2012 when they dropped me off here at U.V.a. and left for Riyadh. After a difficult first semester transitioning into college life with my parents halfway across the world, I boarded the plane home for winter break feeling excited to see my family but also nervous to experience a culture unlike anything I had ever known before.

Now, three years later, my family has returned to the Washington D.C. area, and leaving Riyadh has been a great cause for reflection on how my time there has impacted me, both in my academics as a Middle Eastern Studies major and in my involvements and interactions with others here at the University. Here’s what I feel I have learned, summarized in the following four points.


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Story by: Alaina Segura

Iris Magazine will host a “Celebration for Women in STEM,” co-sponsored by the U.Va. Parents Committee and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center. The event will take place in the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall on the Grounds of the University of Virginia from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Last February, Iris held a similar event celebrating the achievements of women in the Darden i.Lab program, whose focus is to provide education and support for new entrepreneurs. The staff of Iris was so thrilled with the dialogue at this event that they decided to host another similar event in order to continue conversations about the rewards and challenges of working in a male-dominated field.

Amy LaViers, Kim Wilkens and Pam Norris, three women from the Charlottesville area, will be speaking about their experiences working in STEM.

You do not need to be a science or math major to enjoy this celebration!  The event is open to anyone with an interest in the STEM fields, so join us to learn more about the accomplishments of these women in our community.  Appetizers will also be served, so no one will leave hungry!

All guests should RSVP to Agnes Filipowski, Women’s Center Communications Assistant / Iris Magazine Editor, at abf4u@virginia.edu ASAP.


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Story by: Kendall Siewert

I get it – women don’t like to talk about their vaginas. I’m hardly the first person to realize this silence. Eve Ensler lamented it when she compiled The Vagina Monologues almost 20 years ago, and I’m lamenting it today. So let’s talk about it now.

Here are five reasons why all college women should absolutely see a gynecologist based on U.Va.’s Student Health website, and I promise I will not use the term “sexually active” once in this article.


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