April/May 2020

Boldly Go, news from Chancellor Feyten masthead image showing the chancellor wearing commencement regalia cap, gown and seal

A Salute to Nurses, Teachers...and our New Graduates

Dear Friends:

As we weather the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I send you heartfelt wishes for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

While this spring has posed numerous challenges for all of us, I also have heard hundreds of stories of courage, generosity and resilience. These times also awaken our sense of appreciation for the heroes among us every day, as well as a strengthened sense of hope for the future.

As we prepare to virtually graduate thousands of students with talents and intellect greatly needed for addressing what lies ahead, I dedicate this spring newsletter to heroes, unselfish volunteers and those who will lead us forward into an even brighter future.

Celebrating Nurses Week and '2020: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife'

Houston TWU doctoral student Becky Ashlock on the right in full protective gear against COVID-19

Houston TWU doctoral student Becky Ashlock, right, is a certified registered nurse anesthetist who has helped numerous patients on ventilators during the war on COVID-19.

I invite you to check out Dean Rosalie Mainous’ inaugural newsletter for our College of Nursing, which captures a number of incredible stories drawn from our 22,000 nursing alumni, faculty and students who have attracted media attention in recent weeks.

Highlights include:

  • Our global nursing Professor Fuqin Liu, who acted on insights provided by her brother (an ICU nurse in China) early this year, and organized a volunteer group (DFWCare) that raised nearly $250,000 for personal protection equipment for North Texas hospitals and institutions.
  • The experiences of two of our 2012 nursing alumni, Maybelle Anderson and Courtney Waddle, who volunteered for weeks during New York City’s COVID-19 battle.
  • And two Houston-area seniors, Jackie Tran and Douglas Schwartz, who helped triage potential pandemic patients’ calls during the recent surge of COVID-19 victims.

Expanding innovative partnerships to meet Texas' need for more nurses

TWU nursing graduates Alexis Jennings, left, and Julie Vo.

Nursing graduates this month from this novel Texas program include Alexis Jennings, left, and Julie Vo.

This week we announced the expansion of a successful innovative partnership with North Central Texas College in Gainesville that provides students with a direct path through the nursing ranks to a bachelor’s degree at decreased student costs.

This blended nursing program will launch at Houston’s Alvin Community College in the spring of 2021. Some of the graduates from the TWU/NCTC inaugural class this month shared a thumbs up on their experience. This program was created to help address the state’s nursing needs by 2030, which is currently projected at a 20% deficit.

A salute to DFW’s Great 100 Nurses

The Great 100 Nurses, Dallas-Fort Worth. Celebrating Nursing Excellence for 30 Years.

Hats off to the DFW Great 100 Nurses organization for its 30th year of “recognizing nurses for excellence in the art and science of nursing.”

I am always proud to see so many TWU nurses selected every year by their peers “for being role models, leaders, community servants, compassionate caregivers and significant contributors to the nursing profession.”

Among its “Great 100 Nurses” honored this year are College of Nursing Dean Rosalie Mainous and 14 TWU alumni: Margarita Menendez-Bobseine, TWU; Cathy Barnett, Brandy Brite, Allison Butler and Deborah Cates, who work at Medical City (North Hills, Plano, McKinney and Lewisville, respectively); Jenell Golladay, Texas Health Plano; Rebecca Horn and Shasion Keeton, Texas Health Dallas; Noami Cavett, Parkland Health & Hospital System; Katrina Moss, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Grapevine; Lindsay Backschies, Baylor University Medical Center; Cynthia Winkle, Children’s Health; Michelle Kimsey, Texas Christian University; and Veronica Cedilla, Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists.

Nation’s teachers also recognized this month

A TWU teacher education student shows a little boy simple words on cards

May is also the month in which we pay homage to our teachers—who this year may reach much-deserved “higher heights” in appreciation as parents who, sequestered at home with their children, realize the full measure of teachers’ work and impact.

TWU is so proud to have prepared more than 24,000 teachers across Texas and beyond for the priceless roles they play every day.

Supporting women-owned businesses during good—and challenging—times

A young woman works at a computer station

Our Center for Women Entrepreneurs announced its million-dollar AssistHER grant program to assist women-owned small businesses in Texas suffering financial losses due to the pandemic. I was blown away by the response! More than 5,000 businesses submitted applications, and, after reviewing every one, the center has selected 100 female entrepreneurs across the state to receive $10,000 grants.

From restaurants and day care centers to health care providers and cleaning services, the list of winners is quite diverse. If anything, this program shows us that the need for financial backing of women-owned businesses, in good times and bad. I am proud to know TWU is part of the solution to help female entrepreneurs succeed across the state.

For a list of those vetted and approved for funding, check out the Center for Women Entrepreneurs website. We’ll also be adding stories about some of the businesses selected for these grants in the coming months, so be sure to follow our center on Facebook for more details.

Hail to our graduating students!

A graduation cap decorated with a butterfly and the words 'be the change'.

I extend very special congratulations to the 2,310 TWU students who will graduate as a virtual, “historic class” during this global pandemic that will shape their careers and lives in unimaginable ways. After May 21 you can see our virtual commencement. Here are just a very few of our graduates who captured our attention.

Social work student on COVID-19 to take on another important fight

TWU social work graduating senior stands in front of a sign for Baylor, Scott and White Medical Center that reads 'Heroes Work Here'.

TWU social work graduating senior Marissa Valtierra has a job lined up as a Child Protective Services investigator…after she winds down her current service as a nurse’s assistant at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine.

Two months ago, while a full-time student, her unit was designated as the hospital’s official receiving and treatment space for incoming and suspected COVID-19 patients.

She will join the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services later this month as its newest investigator for the Child Protective Services division—joining those who serve as the first line of defense for children who may be experiencing neglect and abuse.

Among her responsibilities, she will assess environments where children live and where there are allegations of wrongdoing; she will gather evidence and, when needed, initiate the protocols for removing a child from that environment. Additionally, she will testify in court proceedings and accompany law enforcement and forensic teams as needed.

It’s a career path she nearly missed.

Fine Arts senior participates in NFL’s 'Women’s Empowerment Draft'

TWUTerry Scholar Olivia Arratia wears a shirt with Tejano music star Selena on the front and the words 'Amendment 19' in football jersey style on the back.

With encouragement from Professor and Visual Arts Chair Vagner Whitehead, graduating senior and Terry Scholar Olivia Arratia was one of 32 women from 20 universities who participated in the recent nationally recorded “Zoom” NFL Women’s Empowerment Draft of amazing women in history.

The brainchild of Alfred University’s student group “Art Force 5,” the NFL event highlighted the lives of 32 historically iconic women—from Doris Day and Shirley Chisholm to Helen Keller, Clara Barton and Susan B. Anthony—who contributed to the women’s rights movement.

Olivia and her counterparts wore a portrait of these women leaders on an NFL-style jersey, and each described the life and contributions of the woman featured on her jersey. Olivia paid tribute to Houston-born Selena, the “Queen of Tejano music.”

“It was a powerful experience,” Olivia told me. “I hope this inspires women of all ages to achieve their dreams and fight for what is right. And what better school to represent (in this national project) than Texas Woman's University.”

The summa cum laude graduate plans to pursue her master’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in photography, and hopes to be a college professor in art and business.

May: 'Better Hearing and Speech Month'

Dorothy Nyarko Henking and her family

Every year at this time we pause to take great pride in our speech-language pathology program because it is a leader in preparing hundreds of graduates to help school districts and medical facilities across the state hire high-in-demand speech therapists.

This year, one of our graduates in this highly regarded master’s degree program is Dorothy Nyarko Henking. Originally from Ghana, the respiratory therapist has been serving on the COVID-19 frontlines leading up to her graduation this month.

With her new degree, she is switching fields to become a speech-language pathologist and plans to continue working with adults, preferably in rehabilitation facilities.

My hat’s off to this mother of three and spouse of a healthcare professional for persevering in spite of a two-hour roundtrip commute to class three to four days a week for four years! Boldly Go, Dorothy!


'Most Admired CEO' and TWU alumna shifts business to create hand sanitizer

TWU business alumna Merrilee Kick (’09 EMBA)

Last year the Dallas Business Journal named Merrilee Kick (’09 EMBA) to its “Most Admired” CEOs list. This year, when the pandemic’s effects were starting to emerge, the founder of BuzzBallz, LLCSouthern Champion, adjusted her company’s operations from cocktail production to making 18,000 gallons of hand sanitizer valued at approximately $270,000 for donation to more than 90 institutions in the North Texas medical community, area fire and police departments, post grocery stores and airline employees.

Nutrition alumna helps Northwest ISD Continue children's food service

TWU alumna Yen McCord Brown (’15 BS; ’18 MS)

Since March 16, Yen McCord Brown (’15 BS; ’18 MS), area supervisor for Northwest ISD food service, has played a key role in the district’s ability to continue serving meals to students via curbside pick-up at six sites. In one location alone, her team has been serving between 1,500 and 1,850 breakfasts and lunches daily.

In normal times, she oversees 10 schools, from elementary to high school, making sure kitchens are safe and compliant with federal guidelines. She takes great pride in ensuring the food is high quality, nutritious and follows any restrictions students may have.

“I love my job,” she wrote us recently. “I love seeing the students every day. The smiles on their faces make my heart skip a beat. I am honored to be able to serve them. For many, these are the only meals they receive for the day. To see them and interact with them (at appropriate social distancing of course) totally changes my day. There are times where I have been tired, but seeing their faces makes me forget that.”


TWU history professor makes national news

TWU history professor Katherine Landdeck with an inset photo of the cover of her book The Women With Silver Wings.

Kudos to our History Professor Kate Landdeck on her recently published book, “The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.” She and her book were featured on “CBS This Morning” and a 47-minute segment on KERA’s “Think” radio program that rebroadcast on many other public radio stations across the country.

TWU recognized for pandemic response

Pioneer Circle on the TWU Denton campus, with blooming flowers in the foreground and the Pioneer Woman statue in the distance.

Texas Woman’s ability to deliver quality instruction during this pandemic was recognized by Educate to Career, a California education nonprofit. The organization ranked TWU in the highest category of universities for its ability to adapt to remote curricula brought on by COVID-19. TWU is one of just four North Texas universities to receive this ranking.

The importance of women who lead...

It has become increasingly apparent that women must play greater leadership roles in everything from health care to business. That was a topic of an op-ed I wrote that was published last month in the Dallas Morning News and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. I point this out because at no other time in modern history has this been more evident than now, as our society is dealing with this crisis pandemic and women are not as visible as they should be.

Chancellor Feyten wears a protective face mask at her office desk while giving a thumbs up signal.

Thanks for your interest in Texas Woman’s. As always, email me with your comments or questions. I am delighted that you have spent a few minutes with me today.

Warm Regards,

signature of Chancellor Carine Feyten






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Page last updated 3:03 PM, April 21, 2023