Celebrating Women’s History Month
We have the good fortune of numerous alumni who have made history, students and graduates who are making history, and faculty who are expanding the knowledge and awareness of the important role women play in making the world a better place.
We also are proud to support and showcase leadership and entrepreneurship among young girls and women in our communities through the centers of our Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.
New Grants for Veteran Woman Entrepreneurs
This week the Institute’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs announced its inaugural Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant program to support women veterans in Texas who own their own businesses or are interested in launching one. Up to $250,000 in grant funds will be awarded in increments of $1,000 to $10,000, with online applications beginning April 14 that must be submitted by 5 p.m., May 14, 2021. Winners will be announced on June 12, Women Veterans Day.
Awardees must meet with the center’s small business advisor, veteran mentors and complete a virtual training series hosted by the center to receive funding. This course will cover topics related to business plan development, marketing, legal matters, accounting and financing.
New TechFW partnership formed
This center also announced a new partnership with TechFW, a leading tech incubator and accelerator aimed at giving female business owners access to entrepreneurial coaching and opportunities to take their ideas to market. This partnership has three components:
- TechFW’s Women & Wealth seminar May 20, which will connect female entrepreneurs and investors.
- Awards that will remove barriers for as many as five female innovators to participate in programs provided by TechFW, including ThinkLab, the technology accelerator. Female entrepreneurs throughout Texas are eligible, including non-students.
- Collaboration with SmartStart, the TechFW incubator program that helps entrepreneurs formalize their business framework to facilitate a path to market.
Helping Girl Scouts engage in virtual political leadership
The Institute’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy sponsored a Democracy in Action Day for 125 local Girl Scouts, thanks to a grant from Communities Foundation of Texas. At this full-day, virtual event held March 20, girls in grades 3-12 participated in activities to earn the Women’s Right to Vote patch and Democracy badge.
The event included a mock legislative session, where the girls played roles as Texas representatives and senators working together to amend and pass a proposed bill. They also had the chance to interact with guest speakers such as a political organizer, political reporter and city council member. Sixteen TWU students helped facilitate the event.
Join us for panel discussing first documentary film on Texas women’s suffrage
This center also continues its work on raising awareness of women’s suffrage in Texas—an amazing, frustrating, uplifting, and sometimes heartbreaking story. From 5-6 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, come gain important insights from the women who made a documentary film about it—Citizens at Last: Texas Women and the Fight for Justice.
Filmmaker Nancy Schiesari and Producer Ellen Temple will talk about the making of the film, which follows the early days of organizing, explores the strategic role Texas suffragists played in the national movement and exposes the pro-Jim Crow policies of the anti-suffragists who stood in their way. It is the first documentary film that tells the story of the grit, persistence and tactical smarts of the Texas women who organized, demonstrated and won the vote for women.
This film will be discussed by a panel of Texas university experts moderated by Danielle Phillips-Cunningham, PhD, our program director and associate professor of Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies.
Center for Student Leadership hires professional development director
Joining us this month as the new director of the Institute’s Center for Student Leadership is Lawrencina Mason Oramalu. She authored the book, “Look Up, Step Up and Soar,” and is a professional facilitator, trainer and motivational speaker with a law degree, a master’s degree in the arts from University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in political science and policy studies from Rice University.
Lawrencina, who previously served as associate dean of educational partnerships at Dallas’ El Centro College, will oversee our student leadership programs and manage both our President’s Leadership Council and new Legacy Leaders program.
Hundreds attend talk by member of the Little Rock Nine for annual Jamison Lecture
Melba Pattillo Beals, EdD, left, answers questions from students and the virtual audience, moderated by TWU associate professor Kate Landdeck, PhD.
The Institute also partnered this month with colleagues who hosted our sixth annual Jamison Lecture this month, where hundreds of attendees heard Melba Pattillo Beals, EdD, journalist, author and member of the Little Rock Nine — the first group of African American students to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Dr. Beals shared her detailed, first-hand account of entering the previously all-white school in the face of violent mobs and death threats at the age of 15. In 1999, Congress awarded her and the eight other Little Rock Nine members the Congressional Gold Medal — the nation’s highest honor — for their contribution to the Civil Rights movement.
Her award-winning book, “Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School,” has played a significant role in TWU’s undergraduate history curriculum for several years.
WASP scholar highlights ‘Women with Silver Wings’ on Good Morning America
Kate Landdeck, PhD, our associate professor in history and political science, chronicled the heroism of the amazing Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II in her latest book, “The Women with Silver Wings,” and in a special interview this month on the ABC network’s Good Morning America program.
Dr. Landdeck was selected to speak on a number of panels at the U.S. Airforce Academy's flagship annual National Character and Leadership Symposium this month. She also spoke to the Academy’s freshmen and upper-level history classes.
A special salute to alumna Millie Hughes-Fulford, NASA shuttle scientist
Payload Specialist Millie Hughes-Fulford floats into Spacelab from the hatch tunnel leading to Columbia. Photo courtesy of NASA.
We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Millie Hughes-Fulford (PhD ’72), 75, our esteemed alumna who conducted experiments about the impact of weightlessness on astronauts’ immune systems and loss of bone mass. She was NASA’s first female payload specialist, and flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1991.
Dr. Hughes-Fulford had her own laboratory within the VA Medical Center. She was also a professor in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco.
Two alumni share their flying passions and prove 'sky’s the limit'
From left, alumni Elyse Moody and Shakar Soltani. (courtesy photos)
One of our recent Dallas campus nursing graduates—Elyse Moody (BSN ’16)—was always fascinated by the stories and pictures from her grandfather’s time flying and jumping out of helicopters in Vietnam. Her dream job awaits as a flight nurse with PHI Air Medical, where she will be training through May.
On the advice of mentors, Elyse worked in an intensive care unit to start her career. The ICU offered her a broader background to prepare for the intense situations she may face. Recently, her crew landed, diagnosed, treated and took off in a mere seven minutes.
“I’m still getting used to showing up on scene, meeting with the crew of the ambulance, stabilizing patients, and assessing interventions,” she told us. “But I love the critical thinking aspect that is required – trying to anticipate what’s next while I figure out the puzzle in front of me.”
And another alumna, who switched her major from nursing to marketing, is also taking to the skies. Shakar Soltani (BBA ’17), has been intrigued with flying and the airlines for as long as she can remember, but as a minority female, she didn’t dare dream that she could be a pilot herself.
The College of Business graduate worked for Southwest Airlines’ marketing department as a distribution and air programs intern. After graduating, Shakar worked for Fidelity Investments for a while, but she simply could not let go of her passion for flying, so she became a flight attendant.
As a flight attendant for Spirit Airlines she attended a Women in Aviation Conference, which convinced her that she, too, could become a pilot. Then she began working as a substitute teacher for the Dallas Independent School District to help pay the bills while continuing her flight lessons part time.
In addition to her work and flight school, she still finds time to bring representation to the aviation field in other ways.
Last fall, she spoke on diversity and representation in the workplace for TWU’s TESSTalk Series. In her talk, she noted that only 7% of all certified pilots are women, only 5% are airline pilots and only 1% are airline captains. In addition, of the 15,000 pilots at American Airlines, only 300 are Black, and only 12 are Black women. Of the 18,800 active duty aviators, only 400 are Black, and only 40 are Black women.
Teacher, veteran to earn third degree
I am looking forward to awarding U.S. Navy Senior Chief Jamie Covey (BS ’01, MEd ’07) her third degree from TWU this spring—a PhD in sociology, preceded by her bachelor’s in history and master’s in educational leadership. Over the last two decades, she has earned her degrees while serving concurrently as the lead American Sign Language teacher at Denton High School and as a Navy reservist.
Her dissertation topic, the effects of a reservists’ deployments on their support system, draws from her own experience in the military, where she was deployed twice for year-long stints (the first in 2008 to Iraq and in 2017 to Africa).
Upon receiving orders for her second deployment, she began to search for resources available to her family — a support network made up of parents, siblings, friends and colleagues — but struggled to find information that wasn’t solely focused on spouses and children.
According to her research, there are approximately 801,000 reservists and guardsmen in the U.S. military, and approximately 400,000 report they are not married and have no children. Her work has the potential to reduce post-traumatic stress disorders and suicide rates, according to our associate dean of research, Jessica Gullion, PhD, in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Just a few years ago, Jamie gave a compelling TEDx talk about her life’s journey and how she looks for opportunities to create family for people who have not otherwise experienced the love and support that is family.
Top scholarship awarded to Coppell senior
In a surprise presentation, I awarded our highest scholarship to this Coppell High School student. Photo courtesy of Coppell ISD.
This week, I awarded TWU's most prestigious scholarship to Binivaa Manandhar, a senior at Coppell High School. It is always one of the most memorable and touching moments of the year for me to give this surprise scholarship to a highly deserving student!
Binivaa developed a keen interest in soccer as a small child, but it was a 2009 trip to her parents’ homeland in Nepal that expanded her thoughts to weightier matters.
“I saw kids playing soccer in a field, on broken glass, and they had no shoes,” she told me. “In Nepal, most kids don’t have shoes.”
The experience prompted her and her brother to launch a non-profit in 2016, Soccer for Nepal, which provides cleats to people of all ages in Nepal. The charity has provided 500 pairs of cleats to Nepalese individuals so far.
The Chancellor's Endowed Scholarship, valued at about $52,000, covers tuition and fees for four years in addition to an annual stipend. Binivaa plans to major in computer science with us this fall—a field she notes is underrepresented by women, and especially women of color.
Besides being a member of the Coppell High School girls soccer team and on the school’s soccer club team, Binivaa is a member of the Junior World Affairs Council and is co-creator of an augmented reality clothing brand, ShareHealth, which “aims to leverage technology to bring people together as well as spread goodwill, love and positive messages.”
Professional musician, sound engineer, entrepreneur now a graduate student
In 2018, NaTasha Rogers was informed that her position as a music teacher for the Dallas Independent School District would no longer exist for the 2018-2019 school year. Confronted with an unexpected obstacle on her seemingly steady career path, she decided to once again combine her talent for music with her commitment to serving others and make the switch from music educator to music therapist.
Our music therapy program is the oldest ongoing program of its type in Texas and one of the first in the nation. She plans to complete her master’s degree in music therapy in 2024.
NaTasha writes and releases music under the brands #THETALKBOXQUEEN and NaTasha Rogers. Her albums can be found online or at Bill’s Records in Dallas, Recycled Books in Denton, and Alameda Records in Tokyo, Japan. She plays, records, mixes and releases her projects on her own record label, NMR Productions, and is also the founder of #TRUTHLOVECONNECT, a global empowerment movement.
Homecoming to honor Distinguished Alumni
From left, 2021 TWU Distinguished Alumni Award honorees Carolyn Oddo (BS ’81, MS ’88), Geraldine Haggard (BS ’49, MEd ’52, EdD ’80), and María Alicia Rodríguez Travelle (BS ’55, MEd ’71, PhD ’76).
In the face of the hardships and challenges presented over the last year, Texas Woman's has continued to thrive and celebrate our traditions and what makes us who we are. This resilience and flexibility is perfectly reflected by the theme of this year's Homecoming celebration—Embracing Change. Homecoming, like many for our annual traditions, had to be reimagined and this year's celebration will take place virtually on April 16-17.
During the weekend's events, the TWU Alumni Association will present the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award and Hallmark Alumni Award honorees. This year, the Distinguished Alumni Award will be given to Carolyn Oddo, a physical therapy professional who has served in leadership roles for both the Texas Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association; Geraldine Haggard, EdD, a career educator and author with a strong passion for supporting the success of students and children who are coping with grief; and María Alicia Rodríguez Travelle, PhD, who played a key role in the development of TWU's bilingual education program. Dr. Travelle is being posthumously honored with this award.
Other events to note include a special TESSTalk with alumnus Luis Rendon (BA ’10), who will discuss his journey from TWU to working for the New York Post, and the unveiling of a new statue—titled "Infinite"—dedicated in memory of alumna Betty Johnston (BS ’47) that will be at our new Scientific Research Commons on the Denton Campus. I am also excited for the opportunity to give an update to alumni on TWU's successes over the last year and our plans for the future.
Expanding the good we can do for our students and the state
In closing, I’d like to share my hopes for the expansion of the roles and capabilities of Texas Woman’s three campuses, which you may have read or heard about. Going back to our founding 120 years ago, we have significantly advanced our ability to educate students and prepare women for leadership roles, while also serving the needs of the state. And we want to do even more. Our urban campuses are situated in the middle of eminent world medical centers, with Denton as our flagship campus, so we are geographically well positioned to apply our allied health, nursing, business, education and other areas of expertise in even more meaningful ways statewide.
But our university is now one of only three independent universities of the 38 public universities in Texas, and this could affect our ability to maintain our distinctive identity as the nation’s largest university primarily for women if other systems absorb us.
More even than the threat of assimilation is the potential missed opportunity to ride the coattails of the #yearofthewoman and establish the only woman-focused university system in the nation. Such a move would bolster our visibility and compound our impact on the state and nation in developing leaders, particularly women, who have shown us they play a vital role in our global competitiveness, economic growth and social stability.
My gratitude to our legislators for filing bills in the House and Senate, where I will be speaking next week, and for the support of our Board of Regents to create Texas Woman’s as a system, which would help us continue to serve students and the state with even greater impact.
I always enjoy getting to know local leaders here in Texas. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with our newly elected State Senator for District 30, Drew Springer. I am grateful for his support of Texas Woman's and was pleased to teach him the all-important TWU hand sign.
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.
Follow Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Page last updated 3:12 PM, December 21, 2023