National group recognizes OT program director, four alumni

profile of Cynthia Evetts

April 15, 2024 — DENTON — A national organization representing occupational therapists has recognized the director of  Texas Woman’s School of Occupational Therapy and four of its alumni. 

SOT Director Cynthia Evetts, PhD, was one of 51 occupational therapists that were named to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Roster of Fellows (FAOTA) for their significant contributions to the profession. 

The honors were announced during AOTA’s INSPIRE 2024 Annual Conference & Expo awards and recognitions ceremony in March. 

Three alumni of the SOT’s Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy program also were recognized as fellows. They include: Sandra Whisner, PhD, of Texas Tech University; Linda Struckmeyer, PhD, of University of Florida; and Nancy Krusen, PhD, of University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Priyanka Kapoor, ‘10 received the AOTA Interprofessional Collaboration award. Kapoor is an occupational therapist at Baylor Health Care System and has offered multiple state-approved continuing education and university-level courses for occupational and physical therapists.

Evetts was nominated for her impact as an occupation-centered mental health advocate and mentor. 

“Being a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association is a true honor,” Evetts said. “I have always had deep respect for colleagues who are fellows, and honestly did not think I would be able to achieve this distinction. Fortunately some of my colleagues saw in me what I did not. Dr. Noralyn Pickens, FAOTA championed my nomination and solicited comments from many former students and current colleagues as support. It was very humbling to grasp the amount of support that I received, and I am truly grateful.”

In Pickens’ nomination, she described how Evetts continued to support students after they graduated and began their own research careers. Evetts co-disseminated research outcomes with SOT graduates, including at least six publications and 14 presentations.

Priyanka Kapoor, ‘10 (left) and Cynthia Evetts, PhD (right) stand together holding awards
Priyanka Kapoor, ‘10 (left) and Cynthia Evetts, PhD (right)

“Many hands make light work,” Evetts said. “Alone, I can only do so much. Together—we can do so much more.”

Evetts’ professional experience has focused primarily on mental health and working with persons in psychiatric treatment facilities, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care, out-patient and respite programs. She is currently the primary investigator on a two-year $235,000 grant from the Moody Foundation with a focus on providing community re-integration post-incarceration for women with intellectual or developmental disabilities at The Crocker House in Denton.

Evetts began her career teaching industrial arts before studying OT at Texas Woman’s. Over the course of her 20-plus year career, she has found ways to blend her passion of art with occupational therapy. 

“I started in the commercial art cluster at Skyline High School in Dallas, where I studied illustration and marketing for three years,” Evetts said. “Then at Texas A&M University I majored in industrial arts education where I was motivated by the utilitarian and aesthetic value of skilled craftsmanship. From there I studied occupational therapy at Texas Woman’s when there were multiple courses in the therapeutic application of crafts—from minor (tabletop) crafts, to wood working, ceramics, and all manner of fiber arts (sewing, needlework, weaving, knitting & crochet). I feel like my current work at The Art Room in Denton has come full circle to combine my love of the arts with my passion for occupational therapy to assist in restoration and recovery for people who want to work on their mental health.”

Evetts serves as a board member for The Art Room in Denton, which provides an art studio for people who desire to use art as part of their self care for mental health and well-being. She was interviewed in March on NBC5’s Texas Today 20 to discuss The Art Room.  

Evetts’ work has been published in academic journals and textbooks but also in trade art magazines. In 2024, she co-authored an article published in the Journal of Occupational Science and also wrote a series of articles along with a colleague for Handwoven Magazine for weavers who need to adapt their craft due to a variety of challenges brought on by disabling conditions or aging. 

When she reflects back on her career, it is not her own work that she talks about, but her students’ achievements. 

“I am most proud of the work I see done by the students I have had over the years,” Evetts said. “Their accomplishments bring me great joy and tremendous Pioneer Pride! The TWU School of Occupational Therapy has graduates all around the world doing amazing work to improve the lives of those we serve. It. Is. AWESOME.”


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Page last updated 11:31 AM, May 30, 2024