Pine Court Blog

  • Staying warm and safe as a VCU student in the harsh Richmond winter

    This winter has shown a large chunk of the United States receiving a blast of chilly weather under what has been hailed as some of the worst ice storms of the season. Winter storms like Hercules, Atlas, and Leon have spread their icy, snowy fingers across the country, leaving havoc in their wake. State conditions range from frigid temperatures to sleet, snow, and ice combinations. Several deaths have been reported, mostly occurring from treacherous traveling conditions. Homes smothered in several feet of snow, invisible and deadly patches of black ice, and suffocating blizzards make the task of getting to class on time for the students of Virginia Commonwealth University arduous.


    While students are granted short reprieves through several hour delays and occasional cancellations, eventually the trek back to class must be made. “Survival guide to stay safe in the frigid cold,” an article in the January 22, 2014 edition of USA Today, author Jolie Lee offers suggestions to those who have no choice but to brave the frigid weather conditions. While it’s nearly a right of passage for college students to gorge themselves on pizza, chips, soda, and coffee, unpredictable weather offers the opportunity to stock up on essentials. Students, whether living in the dorms or off campus, should remember to prepare in advance. It is wise to have at least a week’s worth of food and safety supplies on hand in order to avoid needing to leave the house. Easily accessible drinking water, canned food, necessary medications, blankets, and battery-powered flashlights and a radio are all suggested necessities. You might also consider items like rock salt, sand, snow shovels, and windshield scrapers. Many states are advising their residents to stay indoors in the face of these ferocious winter storms.

    If the need to leave home arises, as with VCU students reporting for class, it is best to layer clothing in a way that allows you the flexibility to add or remove articles of clothing depending on changes in the weather. The three main layers are wicking, insulating, and weather protection. The wicking layer is the layer worn closest to the body and should pull moisture away from the skin while remaining comfortable. A popular wicking choice is long thermal underwear. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester, work well. For those who prefer something else, silk is a comfortable, natural fabric with excellent wicking abilities. The second layer of clothing is the insulating layer and should consist of items like sweatshirts, sweaters, vests, and hoodies. Fleece and wool are common choices. The final layer, the protection layer, is most often used to protect against the elements such as snow, ice, rain, and wind. It should repel water or snow while also letting perspiration evaporate. For the VCU student trekking through the slush and ice, denim jeans or ski pants are appropriate. Many sports stores carry clothing often used by professional winter sportsmen and women like skiers and snowboarders. It is also extremely important to remember to cover the head as one can lose up to 60% of total body heat solely through the top of the head. Ideally the garment should cover your head and ears but some prefer those that also cover their noses and mouths. Ski masks and jackets with neck gaiters provide an extra layer of protection against the biting wind.

    In the face of such biting, frigid weather, it is absolutely suggested to stay indoors and out of the ice and snow unless absolutely necessary. In college, “absolutely necessary” may come around when it’s time to trek back to class before all of the snow has fallen. With the majority of VCU students walking or biking to classes and work it is imperative to have a secondary mode of transportation on hand. VCU’s public transportation system, RamRide, is available for students and is “comprised of three routes that provide transportation on and between the campuses. The Campus Connector travels from the Monroe Park Campus to the MCV Campus, the VCU Medical Center Route – I Lot goes throughout the MCV Campus including Sanger Hall, MCV Campus Bookstore and Coliseum Deck and the Sanger Express – A Lot route travels between the A-Lot and Sanger Hall.” Students and staff can locate a route map on the VCU Public Transportation web page,, as well as a real time bus tracker. Students, faculty, and staff may ride free with a valid VCUCard. VCU also offers a secondary public transportation system, RamSafe, that provides free transportation service to on-campus locations and nearby residences and buildings. Both RamSafe and RamRide may post any changes to scheduled routes or services due to inclement weather on the Public Transportation web site or on their Facebook page,

  • VCU Rams Basketball, A Program On The Rise

    The Virginia Commonwealth University is a small school located in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. The school was founded in 1838, and it is still one of the top medical programs in the country. Even still, the real highlight at this classic institution of higher learning is the VCU men’s basketball team.

    The VCU Rams are one of the most formidable teams in the country and their past dominance has continued thus far this season. The Rams have an impressive record of 12-3, and they have a tenacious defense that limits their opponent’s options on offense. The Rams average of 12.4 steals a game is tops in the nation. They are also fourth in the nation in turnover margin at plus six a game. If the Rams are to make the tournament of 64 in March, Head Coach Shaka Smart will have to keep up the defensive intensity that his players have displayed all season long.

    (photo credit

    Meet the Rams

    The 2014 VCU Rams lineup is not very experienced but what they lack in age, they make up for in sheer tenacity. The starting five are some of the best players in the country, and they are backed by many youth coming off the bench.

    The Starting Five

    Briante Weber is a junior form Chesapeake, Va. The 6’3″ Junior is the starting point guard on the Rams squad and 6’2″ Senior Rob Brandenberg completes the starting backcourt. Brandenberg is from Gahanna, Ohio and he starts at shooting guard. The Rams starting Small forward is 6’5″ junior Treveon Graham from Washington D.C. The 6’8″ Junior Jarred Guest from Columbia SC is the starting power forward, and the starting center is 6’9″ Senior Juvante Reddic from Winston-Salem, NC. 6’8″ redshirt senior, Terrance Shannon from Forsyth, GA also gets the nod at center and power forward from time to time and he splits minutes with Reddic and Guest.

    The Young Rams

    Several underclassmen on the Rams squad provide a vital spark off the bench. Jairus Lyles is a 6’2″ freshman guard from Washington D.C. He splits time with fellow freshman guard, 6’1″ JeQuan Lewis of Dickson TN. The 6’3″ guard Doug Brooks from Lake Wales, FL is another freshman in the backcourt. Torey Burston is a 5’8″ red freshman is another guard on the Rams squad. The young man is a local product of Richmond’s Trinity Episcopal high school. Jordan Burgess of Midlothian VA is yet another freshman who plays the small forward position. Emerson Burk of Chesapeake VA is a 6’9″ forward and he too is a true freshman. Mo Alie-Cox is a 6’5″ freshman from Lorton VA, though he plays the power forward position. Antravious Simmons of Miami, Florida is yet another freshman at the forward position. Melvin Johnson is a shooting guard from the Bronx and he is the team’s sole sophomore.
    With so much youth on the sidelines, it is easy to understand why so many people are getting excited about Rams’ future. Even still, the seniors and juniors on the team give them a chance to win right now, and win, they have. Their last contest against Stony Brook College took place in Richmond and the Rams won handily 81-63.

    Junior forward, Treveon Graham led the Rams with 20 points and 7 rebounds to go along with his 3 assists.

    The victory on January 3 was only one of several blowout wins for the Rams this season. Their largest margin of victory came against the Illinois State Redbirds on the season opener. The Rams destroyed the Redbirds (6-58 in their own home stadium). The Rams then went on to win their home opener in a nail biter against top 25 contender Virginia 59-56. The Winthrop Eagles were the next test for the Rams, and they dismantled the birds by 21 points on their own home floor 92-21. The Florida state Seminole handed the Rams their first loss of the season 85-67. The Rams bounced back with a 73-67 win over Long Beach State the next day but lost a heartbreaker to Georgetown two days later. The Rams then managed to roll off 4 straight wins, knocking off the North Eastern Huskies 79-66, followed by the Belmont Bruins 81-68, the Eastern Kentucky colonels 71-68 in overtime and Old dominion a 69-48 laugher.

    Perhaps the big win over the Monarchs made the Rams overconfident because they lost the following game to Northern Iowa, 77-68. The Rams have subsequently gone on another 4 game winning streak, defeating the Wofford terriers 72-57, the Virginia Tech Hokies 82-52, the Boston College Eagles 69-50 and most recently Stony Brook. The next test will be against perennial NCAA tournament regular George Mason. The GMU Patriots are having a disappointing season at 7-6, but they are still one of the toughest challenges the Rams have had this season. This game will mark the Ram’s first game within the conference this season and they will be looking to start with a W.

    In order for the Rams to make the tournament of 64, they will probably have to win the Atlantic 10 (A 10) conference. As of now, #23 ranked Massachusetts is in first place in the conference with a record of 11-1. Saint Louis and George Washington are right behind UMass. Each school has a record of 12-2, putting them a half-game ahead of the Rams at 12-3. The Rams will face George Washington on February 12, followed by Saint Louis 3 days later and UMass 6 days after that. If the Rams can win all 3 games, they should be in the driver’s seat to win their conference and earn a berth into the 2014 March Madness tournament.

    Keys to Success

    The best players for the Rams this season have been Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic. The young men lead the Rams in scoring, Graham with 15.7 ppg and Reddic with 11.7. They also lead the team in rebounds, Reddic with 7.3 per contest and Graham with 6.5. Graham is also second on the team in assists with 2 per game. This strong inside presence is what makes the Rams so formidable.

    The Leader of the Rams

    Head Coach Shaka Smart is one of the best young coaches in the country. He is a Billy Donovan disciple. He may not have the top talent in the country but Smart knows how to maximize the tools he does have. His recruitment of a phenomenal freshman class has many people in the Richmond area very excited about VCU’s future. While the Rams have fallen from a #14 overall ranking to being unranked, they still have impressive victories over in state rivals Virginia and Virginia Tech. The Rams will go only as far as Shaka Smart can take them but as of right now, the future looks as bright as ever.

    People from all across the commonwealth state are bonfire Rams fans, cheering for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Time will tell if the Rams men’s team can finish strong and win their conference but with a great coach and a foundation of very good, young players in place, the VCU Rams could be a top contender for quite some time. They could even make a splash this year if they get into the tournament of 64. This team makes residing on or near the school’s campus a vibrant and exciting scene as fans and fanatics alike fill the VCU auditorium for each home game. Anyone living near the campus is sure to marvel at the wild fans and the lengths they will go to show their team spirit.

  • The Top 5 Highest Rated Restaurants within 1 mile of Pine Court Apartments


    The urban setting of VCU allows for a huge selection of places to get a meal. Here are the top 5 rated restaurants within walking distance for VCU Students.

    The Black Sheep

    The Black Sheep is a small, trendy restaurant tucked away into a decidedly unassuming neighborhood and is considered by many to be a staple of Richmond’s dining experiences. This hip, casual restaurant is perfect for students, tourists, and Richmond residents alike, offering a full bar and an inventive brunch, lunch, and dinner service. Chef and co-owner Kevin Roberts’ imaginative brunch menu has classic favorites such as French toast and pancakes sitting prettily alongside more diverse choices like a smoked trout egg scramble and fried catfish with a crawfish hollandaise sauce. While The Black Sheep’s brunch selections are to die for, the restaurant’s true appeal lies in its trademark “battleships,” or sub sandwiches. A full sized sandwich, running approximately $20, reaches an impressive two feet in length and can weigh a hefty two and a half pounds. Despite the higher price tag, customers are more than ready to dish out the dough for the impressive quality of the battleships. Each sandwich is named after a famous battleship and features a creative combination of ingredients, including the favorites peach chutney, banana ketchup, chicken livers, and roasted beets.


    Being away at college, whether it’s your first or your last year, can be a daunting and lonely experience. Sometimes all that’s needed to chase away the blues is a taste of home. Located a stone’s throw away from Pine Court Apartments, Comfort specializes in southern home-cooking with a creative, fresh take. The large, open, and airy dining room allows patrons to enjoy their food in a much more relaxed, unhurried manner. Orders are served in large portions, running about $16-25 including three sides. Guests can find all of their old favorites from crispy fried catfish and juicy pork loin to velvety macaroni and cheese and savory brussel sprouts. Guests rave about the desserts, especially the banana pudding crème brulee. All ingredients are locally procured and seasonal. Comfort also prides itself on its substantial whiskey collection, offering a diverse array of drinks to satisfy all who visit their full bar. Due to the popularity of Comfort, it can be difficult to snag a table so be sure to make your reservations early!


    Even college students need a place to celebrate special occasions. Adorned in simple, tasteful décor, Heritage is the perfect place for that special night. Opened in December 2012 by Chef Joe Sparatta and his wife Emilia, Heritage specializes in upscale, unique fare. Guests can expect succulent tender meats such as the luscious pork belly, named best in Richmond, to be served alongside creative appetizers like pork fries and pimento croquettes. Portions are separated into small, medium, and large dishes. Prices vary from $2-$19. In addition to a mouthwatering lunch and dinner menu, Chef Sparatta offers a slew of one of a kind brunch items. Patrons rave about the warm Nutella French toast and the flavorful smoked salmon eggs benedict. Guests are impressed by the knowledgeable, professional attitudes of the both the dining staff and bar staff. Sparatta is courteous to those with food allergies and will substitute a recipe upon request. Heritage is a hot spot in Richmond and reservations are always recommended.

    Nick’s Produce and International Food Market

    Established in 1955 by the original Nick, Nick’s Produce and International Food Market is a hidden gem in Richmond. Now run by his sons Manuel and Philip, Nick’s is a combination deli and Mediterranean food market. The establishment’s appeal lies in both elements, attracting customers with delicious, affordable food and its status as a reliable source of quality Mediterranean specialty ingredients. Within its comfortable, homey aisles, reminiscent of a traditional mom and pop store, are endless shelves of the best imported meats, cheeses, herbs, and wines from all across Europe and the Mediterranean. Nick’s deli offers a wide range of lunch items including sandwiches, soups, and salads. Nick’s best selling sandwich is the Sopressata Mortadella Prosciutto. Sandwiches run anywhere from $5 to $12 and soups or salads from $4.50-$20 based on size. Nick’s also offers homemade desserts such as spanokopita.

    Rev It Up

    Whether you’re spending every night up late studying for finals or are trying to battle rush hour on your way to work, everyone could use a little pick me up. Rev It Up provides just what busy students and employees need in the form of a quaint, friendly coffee house within walking distance of the VCU campus. The perfect environment for work or study, customers can enjoy a delectable array of coffees and teas alongside sinfully sweet pastries and cookies. Rev It Up also has a full brunch and lunch/dinner menu full of seasonal soups and salads, quiches, wraps, and sandwiches. Some of the most popular choices are the fish tacos, Reuben sandwich, and chicken salad. All dishes are made to order and are served quickly and efficiently. Customers rave about Rev It Up’s exceptional customer service and the friendliness of the staff and owner. The staff is also pleasantly accommodating to those who have food allergies. The owner offers free parking passes for a private lot located behind the café for easy parking.

  • VCU Medical Students Lend Helping Hands in Honduras

    Many people take for granted the simple privileges afforded to them while living in some of the more developed areas of the world. Potable water and clean food, reliable housing, even indoor plumbing, are disregarded as easily obtained. The people that make up the numerous communities of the lesser known nations know this to be false. With so many of these privileges easily accessed by what seems to be the majority of the world, it is easy to forget about those living in the more deprived corners of the world.

    Endless hordes of mosquitoes, no electricity or indoor plumbing, rail-thin cots, and an unreliable source of unclean water plagued VCU medical students as they travelled to the far corners of Central America this past summer in hopes of providing much needed aid and support to the underdeveloped communities that reside there. The communities of La Hicaca, Lomitas, and Olanchito were found to be nearly devoid of regular health care, access to safe sources of water, and clean, unpolluted air. Students of the VCU Internal Medicine Residency program are now being offered the chance for specialized training in the areas of global health and wellness through a new pathway offered by VCU, the Global Health and Health Disparities track, or GH2DP. This new residency track, founded and directed by Drs. Michael P. Stevens, M.D., M.P.H. and Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H., allows students to experience two weeks of internship health experience in an underdeveloped country such as Honduras or the Dominican Republic as well as additional care clinic experience in resource-limited settings. Multiple areas of study address the problems around the globe of poor or no access to medical care, sub-standard and crowded housing, lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and poor air quality Participation in advanced curriculum and journal clubs for the new track’s interests are also available. All residents who successfully complete GH2DP’s requirements receive certification in the global health specialty.

    This past summer’s trip to Yoro, Honduras was the program’s seventh consecutive year addressing many of the ongoing issues found within third world countries. Medical students saw almost 700 adults and children over the span of two weeks, some who even travelled over five hours for care. Students provided anti-worm therapy to adults, pap smears for women, and screened for “common” illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and anemia. GH2DP residents also provided much needed information about the importance of sanitation and the dangers of air and water pollution. Education was provided on communities’ air quality and what citizens could do to improve their respiratory health. The extremely successful water filter program was implemented with students distributing over 150 water filters and instructing communities on their proper usage and maintenance. A single water filter may provide clean drinking water for an entire family for over two years. Since the inception of GH2DP’s water filter program there has been a notable fifty percent decrease in diarrheal illness in the region.

    The level of success within the GH2DP residency track is immensely notable and valued but the exclusive program also has generated additional success within its students. The program has recently birthed its first graduate, Dr. Jeff Wang. Participating in approximately fifteen hours of advanced graduate level coursework and online modules as well as joining the numerous excursions to Central America, Dr. Wang has expressed his great appreciation numerous times for the experiences he gained in Honduras.

    “While many medical students and residents have identified within themselves a passion to help medically underserved members of society, it can be overwhelming to know how begin to approach the problem in a sustainable, data-driven way,” he states. “With the demands of the clinical years in medical school and then residency, it can be easy to lose sight of that initial passion. I found that [GH2DP] provided structure and academic rigor towards that passion and consequently strengthened and matured it.”

    Wang has also contributed to the program’s quality improvement project, the GH2DP Student Scholars Program. Students who choose to take part in the new program work with Drs. Bearman and Stevens to develop and begin intense research projects designed to measure and improve the level of care being provided to the people of Honduras. Such findings and solutions are presented to the medical literature communities for publishing opportunities, both locally and nationally. To date, the Student Scholars Program has had seven students join its ranks and whose research efforts have led to “twenty-one local, regional, national, and international presentations, as well as six papers in peer-reviewed journals.” Dr. Wang says of the research project, “VCU’s annual brigade to Northern Honduras has been tweaked and refined to reflect years of ongoing meticulous research and has been subsequently seen an increase in patient and provider satisfaction. It was very rewarding to experience it firsthand.

    Later this summer found Dr. Wang beginning work as a hospitalist at Richmond’s Chippenham and Johnston Willis hospitals. He intends to follow in the footsteps of his mentors Drs. Stevens and Bearman and apply for an infectious disease fellowship.

    VCU’s Global Health and Health Disparities residency track is a uniquely exceptional program providing medical students with opportunities not frequently available at every school. With advantages of both personal and scholarly growth and maturation, the GH2DP program is one that VCU cannot afford to lose. Donations may be made to the program through both VCU’s website and locally at the university. Donations are tax-deductible and are made to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) and will go to the funding of medical and public health programs in Yoro, Honduras. A single donation of $25 will pay for one water filter.

  • VCU students save money by living off campus

    Pine Court Apartments: The Closest You Can Get to VCU Without Paying On-Campus Prices – Learn Why Residents Love It!

    University is one of the most expensive times in someone’s life. And unfortunately, it’s also a time when most students aren’t making a lot of money.

    But just because college is expensive doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to save money. There are hundreds of money saving tips and tricks for college kids, but some tips get repeated more often than others.

    “Living off campus” is one of those tips. Parents tell their kids to live off campus to save money. Professors recommend living off campus to avoid distractions. But who wants to live off campus when you have to spend hours on the bus every week just to get to class?

    That’s why Pine Court Apartments is such a popular choice for students at Virginia Commonwealth University. Located directly across the street from VCU residential housing and less than a block away from main campus buildings, Pine Court Apartments offers the convenience of on-campus living with the service and affordability of off-campus accommodations.

    Why choose Pine Court Apartments?

    For years, Pine Court Apartments has been one of the most popular VCU apartments for students. Here are a few of the advantages enjoyed by residents of Pine Court Apartments every day:

    Enjoy the college lifestyle: From sports to residence parties, university is an exciting time in life. And when living in other off campus VCU housing areas, students tend to feel separated from that lifestyle. While living in Pine Court Apartments, the entire college experience is just minutes away by foot.

    No car, bus, or transportation required: Located just across the street from VCU, residents of Pine Court Apartments can be on campus in minutes simply by walking down the sidewalk. It doesn’t get any closer than this. Shopping areas, nightlife, and grocery stores are all just minutes away. Because let’s face it: nobody likes to spend an hour per day on the bus just to get to class.

    Enjoy Richmond’s trendy Fan District: Ask any Virginian and they’ll tell you that the Fan District is the trendiest part of Richmond. From locally-owned cafes to entertaining nightlife and Victorian architecture, there is plenty to see and do in the Fan District. And despite being located in the center of a big city, the Fan District contains plenty of green spaces, parks, and places to unwind.

    Close to downtown Richmond: If the Fan District isn’t your scene, you can head the other direction towards downtown Richmond, where you’ll find historical buildings, a bustling nightlife, and landmarks like the Virginia State Capitol building.

    Safe and quiet: Whether you’re studying for finals or just ready to unwind after a rough presentation, the quietness and safety of Pine Court Apartments is easy to appreciate. While other VCU apartments require long bus trips across town, Pine Court Apartments is located in the safest part of the city just a stone’s throw from campus. Each Pine Court Apartment building also features a state-of-the-art security system and 24 hour management availability.

    World-class amenities: Pine Court Apartments offers all the amenities students expect – and much more. At Pine Court Apartments, residents enjoy a private outdoor courtyard, laundry facilities in all buildings, high speed internet, cable TV with access to 13 movie channels, HBO, and STARZ, as well as on-site secure parking.

    World-class service: Apartments are cleaned daily by a dedicated janitorial staff. On-site maintenance is available upon request and 24 hour management is always accessible. All utilities are included with rent, along with cable TV and high speed internet.

    A variety of floor plans: Whether living with a spouse or finding a room with your best friends, Pine Court Apartments offers a variety of floor plans to suit the needs of tenants. Floor plans range from studio units to suites with three bedrooms.

    New buildings: All of the Pine Court Apartment buildings were recently constructed and no building is older than 8 years.

    Family-run business that respects tenants: Dealing with large property management companies can be a pain. In many cases, these management companies offer lackluster service and high prices in exchange for a less-than-ideal living environment. Pine Court Apartments, on the other hand, is a family-run operation that aims to build a trusting relationship with residents. From affordable unit prices to management and security you can trust, Pine Court Apartments continues to offer a superior VCU apartment experience.

    As the third largest university in Virginia, VCU is home to tens of thousands of students and is widely recognized as one of the top research facilities in the country. Whether limiting distractions this semester or simply seeking to save money, Pine Court Apartments offers the ultimate level of convenience to VCU students and continues to be one of the most popular VCU housing areas in Richmond, Virginia year after year.