Virginia Heslinga is known by generations of Anna Maria students as the writing professor who encourages her classes to discover their own writing styles and “voices” and to look at their own life experiences through the eyes of a storyteller.  

Virginia started teaching at Anna Maria as an adjunct in 2004 before working her way up to full-time faculty in 2006. Originally on-ground, Virginia now teaches online classes. Her passion for writing and teaching has taken her all around the world and throughout every facet of teaching imaginable.  

“I’ve been teaching now for 48 years. So, I’ve taught every age group in this country and a couple others. And I’ve taught in almost every type of institution from religious Catholic schools to juvenile detention centers. So, I’ve covered a wide range,” Virginia said. 

In addition to her work in the classroom, Virginia is a published author of articles, educational journals, and books including her first memoir Grace Interlaced which will be showcased at this year’s LaVigne Lecture series. “It’s called Grace Interlaced and it’s basically how the unexpected event of a nighttime fire changed my life and my family’s life. The story then delves into the long-term stretch when there wasn’t healing, but there was resentment, blame, and anger. Eventually there was enough grace that people were healed and forgiven. So that was the first time that I had attempted a personal memoir.” 

The lecture event will be held on campus at 4pm on April 10, during Anna Maria College’s Academic Symposium, an annual event where graduating students and faculty present various educational topics and achievements. The timing allows students, faculty, and the public to participate in the unique presentation. This lecture series is the legacy of Edith Mooney LaVigne ’63, a beloved Anna Maria alumna and Trustee.  

During the LaVigne Lecture event, there will be a panel of Anna Maria Fire Science and English faculty who will discuss the book and its real-world implications followed by a Grace Interlaced book signing with Virginia. 

After all these years teaching online classes from her home, ironically in Virginia, the creative writing professor is excited to return to the Paxton campus, especially while the annual Academic Symposium is taking place. 

“Anna Maria College was like a home to me from 2004 until 2014,” Viriginia explained, “For 10 years, I would get up early in the morning to be on campus by 8am and stay there all day. Sometimes I would have 7pm to 10pm classes. So, I spent a lot of hours on that campus and got to know people who taught during the day and people who taught during the evening. It will be so great to see everyone again and to contribute to Anna Maria’s Symposium.”  

For more information about the Academic Symposium please visit: