Story by: Olivia Knott

One month left of summer means only one more month of uninhibited reading for fun.

No, this is not another Cosmo magazine-esque list of  “sexy summer beach reads.” Here are three compelling non-fiction books for the girls who want to flex their learning muscles while laying out on the beach.

Whether you are a fashion lover, entrepreneur, social activist- or all of the above- there is a perfect read for you!

Grace: A Memoir

As past articles might indicate, I am a documentary addict, and so of course, I discovered this memoir thanks to a documentary called The September Issue, which follows the staff of Vogue in creating the magazine’s most important issue of the year.

In it, we meet Grace Coddington, Vogue’s creative director. With bright orange hair and no eyebrows, she’s a fascinating character from the start. Naturally, I left the film needing to know the story of the intriguing visionary behind Vogue’s pages.

Photo from

Photo from
Grace Coddington holding her eponymous memoir.

Her memoir is a combination of written story, self-illustrated sketches and samples of personal modeling pictures as well as fashion spreads, creating a book rich in visual content.

Coddington recounts her professional journey from model to Vogue’s creative director, as well as her personal life and includes many revealing anecdotes about her experiences with fashion’s biggest designers and photographers. Most interesting is watching her navigate her, at times, contentious relationship with Anna Wintour- including penning a chapter focused on the editor-in-chief.

Visit this link to view the creative director’s work in an excerpt of the documentary, The September Issue.

The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on your Own Terms

Lauren Maillian Bias, who penned this memoir at the age of 28 as an already successful entrepreneur of three different business ventures (including creator and former C.O.O. of Sugarleaf Vineyards, rebranded in 2013 as Wisdom Oak Winery, right here in Charlottesville!), gives her advice on finding success in the business world using three driving principles:

  1. To attract opportunities and be prepared for when they arrive
  2. To invest in relationships that will bring opportunity
  3. To seize opportunities

I admit, I am not a fan of confrontation- when it comes to fight or flight, I pick flight about 95 percent of the time.  Not exactly a great career skill.

Therefore, my favorite advice comes from the third section of the book on seizing opportunity- a chapter on learning to negotiate. Negotiating is integral to advancing in the business world, but something many people (aka me) are fearful to do. Bias gives her insight on the importance of knowing your audience, as well as how to prepare for, construct and control the direction of your negotiation to best benefit your goal.

Finally, us confrontation-fearful can breathe a little easier (and get that promotion).

Each chapter also includes tips from successful business veterans such as Kathleen Warner (former C.O.O. Startup America Partnership) and Kelly Hoey (co-founder and managing director of Women Innovative Mobile).

Watch an interview with Maillian Bias about the key to her success here:

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

The Let Girls Learn campaign recently highlighted the fact that 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Malala Yousafzi would have been one of these girls, had it not been for her father, who believed in educating his daughter. Now, at only 17, Yousafzai is an international leader in the fight for education.

Her memoir, I am Malala, recounts her experience growing up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, an area deeply affected by Taliban violence. Despite erupting violence, her father continued to ensure her schooling. As a young pre-teen (wow), Yousafzai began to publically speak out in favor of the education for women, with such wide reaching activism that it came to the attention of the Taliban, and led to a member shooting her in the head at age 15.

Yet, her miraculous survival is proof that her message will not be silenced.

Last fall, this John Stewart interview with Yousafzai captured the attention of millions. If you have not seen it, let her powerful message inspire you to pick up the book immediately.

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Story by: Olivia Knott

The lone runner, huffing and puffing down University Avenue, yes, I see you. You have a will of steel, are the ultimate self-motivator, probably on mile 13.6, and yes, now the entire Corner knows.

Before I throw on my running shoes and attempt to drag myself outside to imitate said runner, I need to remind myself that there is a far more enjoyable way to suffer in front of people… suffering with them.

Gone are the days of step aerobics and jazzercise! Get familiar with these cool fitness classes in Charlottesville for all different workout tastes, but tied together by a common thread- working out together.

If you want to get toned, especially with lean muscle, try Pure Barre:

Just down Old Ivy Road, this workout uses micromovements to engage, hold and release your muscles repetitiously with ballet-inspired technique. The only tools you use are a barre, ball, lightweights, resistance band and socks. (Seriously, don’t forget to bring a pair!)

The difficult aspect of this workout is that because the movements are so small, it is difficult at first to understand which muscles you are trying to engage. When I took the class for the first time last week, a fellow student told me that consistency is key. She said that once you take this class about seven times, then it gets really hard because that’s when you finally understand completely which muscles you are working.

This is also an excellent choice for people who need an intense but low-impact workout- there is no jumping or other movement that is strenuous on joints.

Perk: New student special for a month of unlimited Pure Barre is $100.

Want to know what to expect in class? Watch this video for tips and more information about the workout and class structure:

If you are looking for a dynamic yoga experience, try Opal Yoga:

The Vinyasa style studio on Main Street constantly changes up the routine of each class- I like to think of it as yoga for the attention-challenged. Having taken Bikram yoga before, I find that I often lose interest due to the repetitiveness of each class; this is not the case with Opal!


Photo by Olivia Knott

One class last week happened to fall on the same day as a USA World Cup game, making it the perfect reason for the teacher to lead a class based in Vinyasa yoga for athletes, focusing especially on the muscles used by soccer players.

Vinyasa is a perfect combination of strenuous physical activity and deep stretching, making it my personal favorite.

Opal regular (and the friend who always manages to help get my butt off the couch), Kaija Flood, agrees: “Vinyasa is challenging yet relaxing,” and even better, “Opal is an absolutely gorgeous studio to practice in.”

Perk: New student special for an unlimited month of yoga for $50.


Photo by Olivia Knott

If you want a high intensity workout, try CrossFit Charlottesville:

According to the CrossFit Journal, a publication dedicated to the CrossFit lifestyle, this workout is centered around “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” In addition, the CrossFit Charlottesville website describes this workout as full body exercises that mimic movements made in the real world such as sitting and standing, lifting and pushing and pulling, but in a gym setting.

Still confused? Watch this video:

Scared that this workout looks like an injury waiting to happen? Do not fear! CrossFit Charlottesville will scale their workouts to the level of your ability.

Perk: 15 percent discount for students on all membership packages.

If you want a workout that involves teamwork, try SEAL Team Physical Training:

In order to obtain a workout membership you first have to complete a two-week training course that teaches how to safely and correctly participate in the SEAL Team PT’s exercise regimen. After working out with the same group of people for 10 workouts, bonding through obstacles, strength and endurance workouts…

You have completed the training course! Congrats! Now what?

When you become a member, you get unlimited access to the hour-long class that meets Monday through Friday. Now, don’t forget this is a military based workout… and that means early mornings. Charlottesville classes are only offered at 6 a.m

Two members of the Women’s Center staff, Assistant Director of the Young Women Leaders Program Melissa Levy and Trauma Counselor Margaret Edwards, regularly attend the workouts.

Edwards describes it as “inclusive, body-positive […] challenging and outdoors. It feels like the best parts of recess and PE.”

Recess at 6 a.m.? Not a terrible way to start the day.

Perk: 50 percent full-time student discount for the $250 two-week training program. After that, a month-long membership is only $90, making it the most wallet friendly option on this list. Right now, Groupon is offering an even better deal for these classes!

What does SEAL Team training look like? Watch as the University of Illinois women’s basketball team undergoes the rigorous program:

Make sure to check out LivingSocial and Groupon for a variety of group class deals:


One Month of Unlimited Hot Yoga for $39

5 Club Mo Fitness classes for $29 11 for $49

One Month of Unlimited Muay Thai Boxing $39


$19 for 3 Trial SEAL Team PT classes/$79 for two-week SEAL PT training program/$149 for two-week SEAL PT training program for 2 people (featured above)

$40 for 10 hot yoga classes at Hydra Yoga/$89 for 20 classes

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This is the second blog post in a series about the culture that the city has to offer. To read the first blog post, please visit this link.

Story by: Olivia Knott

The music scene in Charlottesville

Big name stars like Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan may have stopped by John Paul Jones Arena this past year, but Charlottesville music really shines because of its intimate concert venues and penchant for attracting folk, indie rock and bluegrass bands from all over the country. Here are a few concerts I’m most excited about this summer:

Tall Tall Trees with Christopher Paul Sterling July 16 at The Garage

Watching a show at The Garage is a must. The tiny venue is an actual garage converted into a performance space for artists and musicians, letting you relive your days of high school guitarist stardom among the gardening tools of your parents’ garage- except cooler looking and probably much more talented.

Combining blue grass and folk rock, Tall Tall Trees is no exception- prepare for some killer banjo playing.

Watch a past performance by the band Toy Soldiers at The Garage to see what you’re in store for:

Rock’n to Lock’n with Kings of Belmont, Steal the Prize, Erin & the Wildfire, and We Are the Design July 18 at the Jefferson

This concert is awesome because:

  1. You get to show support for local bands
  2. You get to pick which one will perform at Lock’n Music Festival
  3. You get reminded that Lock’n is only about a month and a half away… too early to start a countdown? Nope.

Lock’n Music Festival takes place Sept. 4-7 in Arrington, Va., only about an hour away from Charlottesville. This year’s line-up includes Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers, Willie Nelson, The Allman Brothers Band and The String Cheese Incident. The festival is very student friendly, offering discounted student tickets for only $180 for all three days!

An Evening with Yonder Mountain String Band Aug. 31 at The Jefferson

Yonder Mountain String Band offers a taste of true Colorado Bluegrass. They can’t seem to get enough of Charlottesville either. Returning to The Jefferson for a second time, do not miss your chance to see a band whom concert reviewer Jason Warren once praised as “rooted in traditions of acoustic music,” but with the “spirit of San Francisco dance bands” like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. I can’t wait to see this groovy combination of influences live.

My favorite song? “40 Miles from Denver”

Finally… for music on any night, check out Miller’s on the Downtown Mall, which plays live music 7 nights a week. One of their regulars, the John D’earth Quintet, headed by U.Va. Director of Jazz Studies John D’earth, has played there for more than 25 years, proving that Miller’s is a Charlottesville classic for live music.

Happy listening!

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Story by: Olivia Knott

Besides being home to Mr. Jefferson’s university, Charlottesville prides itself for its arts and music scene. Between taking classes and working that internship, make sure to check out what the city has to offer this summer.


Free Friday Finds

First Fridays

On the first Friday of every month, Charlottesville art galleries open up their exhibits to showcase a featured artist of the month. These gallery openings often include food, drinks, music and an appearance or live performance by the artist whose work is being shown. Galleries are generally open from 5- 9 p.m. Best part? All gallery events are free!

Check out the July and August First Friday guides here.

Fridays After 5

During the summer months, the nTelos Wireless Pavillion hosts Fridays After 5, a free concert every Friday, including First Fridays.



Photo by Agnes Filipowski
Take in the view of the band and crowd at Fridays after Five in the Downtown Mall.

Head to the Downtown Mall on a summer night, take in a few art exhibits, watch some live music, and bring your own picnic or try one of the food trucks that regularly attend the event. What more could a broke culture-seeking college student ask for!


Charlottesville art exhibits

Second Street Gallery:

Can’t Shake It

Did you see a polar bear wandering around the Downtown Mall between June 2-6?

No you did not overindulge on the beer you drank at Fridays After 5. That was artist Avery Lawrence making a role reversal statement about climate change and the possible effects of human’s “encroaching on” (or expanding into) animal’s habitats.

In his multimedia and performance exhibit, open from June 6 to July 12, Lawrence uses a blow up polar bear suit and leaf blower, among other props, to explore the meaning of “expansion” through different mediums. He seeks to explore how pushing beyond limits and comfort zones can be an uncomfortable experience, and “how by allowing our interior something’s to affect our exterior selves we make pathways toward understanding each other.”

Modern art… sometimes you just have to roll with it.



McGuffey Art Center:

McGuffey 1

Photo by Olivia Knott
Iron Sculpture by Skip Willis

The McGuffey Art Center is currently home to five exhibits of different mediums ranging from photography to watercolor, which are on display for the public from June 3-29.

My favorites included the retrospective on Skip Willis, in which his preliminary design sketches for stained glass were put up for display, as well as finished products. With this multitalented artist, the exhibit also included fascinating metal sculpture, including an Alice in Wonderland-esque growing chair.

McGuffey 2

Photo by Olivia Knott
Acrylic painting by Polly Breckenridge


Another favorite was Polly Breckenridge, who uses the same distinct human silhouette throughout her work, making it interesting to see the same figure placed throughout different settings.

Bonus: The greatest asset of the center is the resources it offers to community members. If you have any interest in becoming a better painter, sculptor, sketch artist-anything you can imagine, really- the McGuffey Art center should be your first stop for art classes of any kind.



The Fralin Museum of Art:

If you know how to navigate yourself to the fraternities on Rugby Road, then you know how to get to the Fralin. Now you have no excuse not to visit.


Photo by Olivia Knott
Fralin Art Museum is located within the Grounds of  U.Va.

“Reflections and Undercurrents, Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice 1900-1940” is on exhibit until Aug. 10. If you’ve taken an art history class, you might know that etching is an unbelievably painstaking process, and the detail that these prints display are incredible. The prints are divided into four sections dedicated to a unique aspect of Venetian life- panorama’s of the city’s grand canal and large squares, medieval Venetian architecture, gondolas, and venezia minore, a term for the areas of city that are not accessible by car and are often over looked by tourists.

Turn of the century prints make for great frat party conversation anyways, right?





Stay tuned for more summer highlights focused on music!

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Story by: Olivia Knott

Before you spend summer re-watching Friday Night Lights for the third time on Netflix (of which I am guilty), consider watching a documentary. Here are my five picks for documentaries that focus on women; while vastly different from one another, each one will inspire and make you think.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

If you’re interested in women’s global issues, this two-part documentary is an excellent place to start.

Based on the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the eponymous documentary travels through ten different countries where the film claims female oppression is at its most extreme. The documentarians spotlight women within the community who are working to change deeply ingrained cultural values in order to fight human rights violations such as sex trafficking and intergenerational prostitution. A famous actress accompanies each trip, in an effort to use their notoriety to bring attention to the issues at hand.

While at times their somewhat forced presence feels like a well-meant but ill executed attempt to attract viewers, some of the actresses, especially Diane Lane and Olivia Wilde, offer intelligent insights into a community’s struggle.

In light of recent accusations about discrepancies of the life story of Somaly Mam, one of the women profiled in the film for her work against sex slavery, this documentary has also created an interesting opportunity for dialogue about the ethics of reporting stories of trauma.

Dark Girls

Dark Girls investigates the cultural pervasiveness of colorism, prejudice based on the varying degrees of lightness or darkness of the skin, and how such prejudice exists most heavily within the black community itself.

Tracing the its roots back to survival tactics of slavery, the film focuses on the role it plays in modern society, especially in the media and the big business of skin lightening treatments, ultimately examining how these factors affect a woman’s self-worth and relationships with others, especially romantically and as a parent.

Follow up this documentary with Lupita Nyong’o’s poignant speech at the Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon about searching for role models in the media and discovering the meaning of true beauty.

Shely Wright: Wish Me Away

After denying her sexuality for most of her life, Shely Wright: Wish Me Away follows the coming out story of a singer working in the deeply conservative country music industry.

The film documents her difficult task of navigating the inextricable relationship between Christianity, her music genre and fan base. The highlights of this documentary are Shely’s home videos made in the time leading up to her public coming out where we see her at her most honest, as well as her relationship with her sister and father, her steadfast support system as she prepares to tell 8 million fans, including her own mother, that she is lesbian.

What the film lacks in its artistic execution, it surely makes up for in its emotional power.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel

Told with fabulously charming candor, Diana Vreeland narrates her ascent to fashion stardom as fashion editor for “Harpers Bazaar,” editor in chief for “Vogue,” and then a consultant for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Before Anna Wintour, this visionary force behind “Vogue” turned the magazine into a cutting edge publication in the 1960s, using fashion spreads to tell stories, making the December issue her creative brainchild. Once deemed an ugly duckling by her mother, Vreeland proves that drive, wit and intelligence are what make a woman beautiful.

Full of quotable one-liners, here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Style is everything… Without it, you’re nobody… and I’m not talking about a bunch of clothes.”
  • “She made it OK for women to be ambitious, for women to be outlandish, to be extraordinary and for women to garner attention.”
  • “Ravishing personalities are the most interesting things in the world.”

I couldn’t agree more.

20 Feet from Stardom

My favorite pick, this documentary gives a well-deserved face to the powerhouse voices of black female back-up singers, women who have made a career out of standing behind music’s superstars.

The documentary tackles the question: “Why, despite their efforts, didn’t these extraordinarily talented women succeed as solo artists?” The wisdom and humility with which these women recount their careers reveals a love of music in its purest form, transcendent beyond the temperamental demands of show business that in many ways hindered their ability to expand their careers.

A reminder that a life of performing is at its core about passion for your art, this is a must see for any aspiring entertainer.

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