Story and photos by: Michelle Cho

Forty years ago, a Bangladeshi economist named Dr. Muhammed Yunus decided to open a bank.

Yunus developed what would become known as micro-financing, a type of banking that grants small loans to interested borrowers to fund business ventures. As a result of Yunus’s belief in the ingenuity and creativity of all people (especially the world’s women, which composed 97 percent of his borrowers), thousands of businesses now exist and are contributing to thriving communities globally.

Yunus’s Grameen bank model is changing lives around the world. What we might not realize is that his micro-lending model is working right here in Charlottesville.

This is the first in a blog series on Iris that will feature amazing female entrepreneurs, as they demonstrate how micro-financing is actively working in our city. These women carry powerful stories: stories of courage, of bravery, of fighting for the chance to impact the community despite disparaging odds.


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Miller reflects on the meaning of the award and on the evolution of women in sports

Story by: Alaina Segura

For her outstanding accomplishments in athletics, Jane Miller, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Programs at U.Va., will receive the 2014 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award at a ceremony on Sept. 18.

Jane Miller

Photo by Matt Riley

Presented annually by the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at U.Va. to a woman employee of the University, the award commemorates Elizabeth Zintl, the former Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at the University. The award honors the high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment that characterized Zintl’s significant contributions to the University.

Miller, who has worked for the Athletics Department since 1983, began her career as a coach for field hockey and women’s lacrosse. In her 12 years of coaching, with a record of 145-44 and two national championship titles, she is the winningest coach in U.Va.’s women’s lacrosse history. In 1995, she retired from coaching to take on a full-time


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Top 5 Clubs to Join at U.Va.

Story by: Olivia Knott*

Ah, the school year has begun! While you may be tempted to split your time between hours of reading (ahem, procrastinating) on the bottom floor of Clemons and dancing the night away on the top floor of Trinity, why not use this year to make a difference for others?

U.Va. is home to around 350 clubs. While this may sound intimidating, fear not! With the help of my peers, I have chosen the top 5 clubs at U.Va. that strive for social justice, raise awareness, and foster the growth of relationships and ideas between peers.


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A Lasting Commitment:

Student reflects on experience with YWLP in Nicaragua

YWLP Nicaragua Group

My team poses with this year’s Bigs and Littles after their first meeting together.

Story and photos by: Emily Anthony

This article is dedicated to the supporters of Rompiendo Fronteras in Managua, Nicaragua including the faculty of Lincoln International Academy, Facilitators, and former and current Big Sisters, as well as the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 JPC teams, whose hard work has brought the mission of Rompiendo Fronteras to life.

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Before leaving for Managua, Nicaragua, my Jefferson Public Citizens (JPC) Team and I spent an entire semester and summer preparing for the two-week long trip. Since its founding a year ago, the mission of Hermanas Unidas Rompiendo Fronteras has been to adapt U.Va.’s Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) into a Nicaraguan program that connects upper class teens exhibiting leadership skills with disadvantaged, elementary-level girls. With the guidance of a teenaged mentor, or “Big Sister,” Rompiendo Fronteras strives to encourage each mentee, or “Little Sister,” to overcome life’s setbacks, so that she can then prevail as a leader in her developing community.

Though Rompiendo Fronteras ran successfully during its first year with funding from JPC and the Alcoa Foundation, as well as support from YWLP and Lincoln International Academy, the private bilingual college-preparatory school the Bigs attend, its continued sustainability became the primary issue my team eagerly worked to improve, so that Little Sisters in years to come have the opportunity to gain the same confidence in self as our first group of girls.

Nicaragua Classroom

One of the seven classrooms at la Sagrada Familia, where the mentees of Rompiendo Fronteras attend school.

To achieve this goal, we decided to establish better infrastructure so that Rompiendo Fronteras would be able to run successfully on its own. My team and I achieved this by creating a comprehensive handbook that teaches the program’s Facilitators how to successfully manage group meetings, curriculum and membership. Additionally, we brought new 2D printing technology and mentoring curriculum, with the purpose of increasing each mentee’s ability to think and act autonomously in order to achieve personal goals. We created networks to better foster Rompiendo Fronteras’ relationship with its YWLP Sister Site in Charlottesville. Toward the end of our stay, my team and LIA held the first of many annual induction ceremonies for each of Rompiendo Fronteras’ dedicated mentors. Furthermore, four former Bigs created a fundraising club at LIA to help cover the yearly supply costs of the program. Although all of these goals seemed daunting at first, by the time we left Nicaragua, my team and I had successfully completed a lengthy list of tasks aiding Rompiendo Fronteras’ internal sustainability.


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Story and photos by: Sophia Socarras

My childhood dream was to become an interior designer. While most kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons, I spent my weekend mornings watching HGTV design shows and helping my parents pick paint colors for our house. When I finally moved into an apartment this semester, I was excited to decorate my own place!
Whether you’re moving into a new place or are looking to change it up a bit in your apartment, dorm or house, here are my top 5 tips to make the most of your space.

  1. Explore your local thrift stores. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your space unique. For example, I found a beautiful, large wooden mirror at Goodwill in Annandale, VA for only $30! Saving money on pieces like this will leave you more money to spend on investing in other parts of your space. Habitat for Humanity is also a great place to look for discounted furniture pieces. You can even view their inventory online so you know what they have even before stepping into their store.

    decor 1


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