Women Who Lead

#WomenWhoLead is a regular feature that highlights faculty, staff, students and alumni across all three of Texas Woman’s University's campuses who show leadership skills in their daily lives and are making an impact on our institution, communities and society. Follow TWU on social media to read about new leaders every week: 

If you would like to recommend a faculty, staff, current student or alumni to be featured, email socialmedia@twu.edu.

TWU alumna Merrilee Kick turns class project into multi-million-dollar business

In 2009, Merrilee Kick was a high school teacher enrolled in TWU’s Executive MBA program wanting to make more money to support her family. Things were tough, and she needed a great business plan both for her capstone project and her future. What she got was the inspiration and drive that would completely change her life.

Setting the Stage: Career-ending injury leads dancer to new passion at TWU

A professional ballet dancer whose international career was cut short due to a series of injuries is pursuing a degree at Texas Woman’s University to help others avoid the same fate.

TWU degree dishes out success for alumna on Hell’s Kitchen

Creating original gourmet cuisine from scratch in 40 minutes would be stressful for most people, but imagine doing it for an audience of 3 million people. That was the life of TWU alumna Michelle Tribble as a contestant on the Season 17 All-Stars edition of Hell’s Kitchen.

To the Top of the World and Back

TWU alumna Roxanne Vogel has taken mountain climbing to new heights. 

An experienced mountaineer who’s climbed the tallest mountains on nearly all the continents, Vogel set a unique goal for herself to become the first person to scale Mt. Everest – going up from sea level, to the top of the world and back down – in a record-making two weeks. By comparison, the average climber takes two months to climb the world’s tallest peak.

Psychology professor shares passion for helping mental illness patients

Associate professor and director of TWU’s counseling psychology master's program, Claudia Porras Pyland, Ph.D., knew from an early age that she wanted to become a psychologist. 

TWU alum continues family legacy and grows State Fair empire

TWU alumna Amber Fletcher has had quite a journey from carnival kid to successful entrepreneur. As the head of marketing for her family’s business, the multi-million-dollar Texas staple Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs, she is making waves and forging new paths as a third-generation business owner.

Villavaso lands Fullbright grant, strives to fight for human rights

Recent graduate Morgan Villavaso chose to attend TWU because she was inspired by its purpose and mission, which is “rooted in the truth that educating women empowers the world.” She chose to study sociology because of its humanitarian focus. “Sociology taught me to move through the world with a conscientious and critical lens,” said Villavaso.

Opportunity is key to bilingual ed path for Hoyos

A college professor could write a lengthy dissertation on the importance of sharpening Spanish and English skills in schoolchildren, but Jessica Hoyos can sum up her position in short order: “I want young people to think of Spanish as a strength, not a weakness.”

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Hoyos, a Texas Woman’s University senior interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in bilingual education, is passionate about becoming a teacher.

COB professor pioneers experiential learning in her classroom

College of Business professor Pushkala Raman, PhD, began using experiential learning projects long before it became part of Texas Woman’s University’s focus. In fact, Raman had not even heard the term “experiential learning” when she began looking for real-world experiences for her students.

Fletcher brings Autism awareness events to students and DFW community

Eight years ago, TWU Occupational Therapy professor Tina Fletcher, EdD, MFA, OTR, collaborated with the Dallas Museum of Art to host sensory friendly events to build autism awareness and bring OT training and teaching opportunities to her students. The events have now expanded across Dallas and influenced museum planners and therapists across the globe.

Texas Woman’s alumna beautifies Denton, turns art into career

While exploring our favorite college town of Denton, Texas, you are guaranteed to come across a lot of beautiful art. One of the artists responsible for beautifying Denton landscapes and the websites of local businesses is Katie Mont, Texas Woman’s graphic design alumna, artist and entrepreneur.

16-year-old Texas Woman’s student accepted into nine law schools

Haley Taylor Schlitz graduated high school at the age of 13. She was accepted into 17 universities but had trouble finding exactly what she was looking for in a school ... until she toured TWU. Now, at 16 years old, Taylor Schlitz is graduating with an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies before law school.

TWU Dance alumna combines dance and film in several local projects

Asiyah Martin always loved the art of storytelling, first through dance and later through video production. From creating her own videos to directing larger local projects, Martin is carving a path into the film industry.

TWU alumna draws on student-athlete experience in professional stunt woman career

Texas Woman’s alumna Luci Romberg has come a long way since her time as a two-sport student athlete at TWU. Today, she’s a professional stuntwoman in some of the world’s biggest blockbusters and part owner of a freerunning business.

Kropik uses art to guide occupational therapy career aspirations

Laryn Kropik discovered her creative side while struggling with depression and fell in love with art. This led her to pursue a degree in psychology, pre-occupational therapy, with hopes to heal future patients physically and mentally through occupational therapy and art.

Texas Woman’s PT professor gives back to her industry and students

Texas Woman’s physical therapy professor and alumna Rupal M. Patel, PT, PhD, attributes her servant’s heart with growing up in India and the values she inherited from her parents when immigrating to the United States. These values now drive Patel to give back to the physical therapy profession and her doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students on TWU’s Houston campus.

TWU professors team up for childhood obesity research

Texas Woman’s University professors Kathleen Davis, Ph.D. (nutrition and food sciences) and Marilyn Massey-Stokes, Ed.D. (health promotion and kinesiology) recognized a need for new approaches to combat childhood obesity. A current research project may give them the answers – and it may be as simple as picking up a cellphone.

TWU nursing student’s research published in prestigious journal

As an undergraduate nursing student Shannon Duncan’s passion for the healthcare field was clear. However, she knew if she wanted to help more people and further her career, she needed to become involved in research on campus.

Duncan is now the first undergraduate student to walk into TWU Dallas’ Center for Research Design and Analysis (CRDA) on her own in pursuit of opportunities. This first step led Duncan on a journey that would end with her work published in the Journal of Forensic Nursing.

TWU grad draws from personal success to inspire others

She graduated first in her class at Lake Worth High School and had a penchant for math, so it seemed like a good bet that Adriana Blanco would earn a degree in that discipline at Texas Woman’s University and then teach.

Ferguson embarks on third Alternative Spring Break volunteer trip

While most students are on vacation or enjoying a relaxing break from school, Shiley Ferguson donates her time to others through Alternative Spring Break (ASB) volunteer programs. Ferguson has already participated in two ASB trips and will embark on her third and final trip this year before graduating with a nursing degree in May.

Gymnastics coach inspires students and leads team to victory

Texas Woman’s alum and current Gymnastics Head Coach Lisa Bowerman never expected to spend more than a decade with the Pioneer Gymnastics Team, but that mindset changed rather quickly after she joined the team in 2005.

Texas Woman’s alumna reflects on extensive NASA career

Anngienetta Johnson’s love for math started with a simple grade school feeling of being good at it. While studying mathematics at Texas Woman’s, Johnson suddenly found herself nominated by the head of the department for a co-op program with NASA. Little did she know this opportunity would lead to a lifelong career with NASA.

Young mother inspires students to pursue business

Dewaynna Horn, PhD, originally planned to pursue a career in chemical engineering, not business. Then, life happened. Horn dropped out of school twice before committing to college full time at age 21. That’s when business found her. Horn is now an associate professor in management on Texas Woman’s Houston campus and the College of Business’s associate dean for accreditation.

Lee keeps White Coat Ceremony tradition alive among DPT students at TWU

From an early age, Texas Woman’s University graduate student Adrian Lee knew she wanted a future in healthcare. After her father became ill when she was in the eighth grade, Lee remembers being confused by and unclear on what exactly was happening.

Military service inspires TWU alumna and professor to improve care for veterans

Sometimes, inspiration comes from places we least expect it.

For Sabrenda Littles -- a member of TWU’s Houston nursing faculty, a business owner and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves – inspiration came during numerous hospital waiting room visits as a child.

Sager designs official tartan, makes university history

From volunteering at the Texas Fashion Collection, designing and modeling in many TWU fashion shows, participating in the Alpha Alpha Chapter of the Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society and practicing Irish Step Dancing, Sager had a busy schedule. Then she designed Texas Woman’s official tartan.

Jones leads gymnastics team in back-to-back national championships

Passion and focus helped Schyler Jones lead the TWU gymnastics team to back-to-back national championships in 2017 and 2018. Chances are pretty good those two personality traits will play a major role as she pursues a longtime dream of becoming a teacher.

High school was training ground for TWU student’s activism

She wasn’t even old enough to vote in 2017, but when TWU psychology major Sandra Moreno was in high school, she mobilized a force strong enough to impact a school board election.

Romans displays leadership skills on inaugural NASA team at TWU

Kinesiology senior Audra Romans made the most of her Texas Woman’s undergraduate experience as an Honors Scholar, Pioneer Ambassador, Kinesiology Club member and student employee in several departments on campus. Then, during her final semester, Romans and five other kinesiology students competed and won first place as TWU’s inaugural team in the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) Design Challenge, sponsored by NASA.

Detour marks leadership path for TWU senior

Just before she transferred to Texas Woman’s University, Kyra Solis’ career plan seemed set: First, a nursing school education and then a steady position with a hospital or doctor’s group. But a dose of reality hit her shortly after her transfer, when she learned that getting into nursing school wasn’t as easy as she thought. Her grades were good enough, but the competition was fierce. 

A frank discussion with an academic adviser got her thinking about another academic opportunity, and in a similar direction: Health Studies.

Grad student thrives as first-gen Latina student at TWU, mentors others

As an undergraduate honors student and G-Force mentor, Jassmine Marquez guided others to pursue higher education. Now, as a Texas Woman’s graduate student, she is continuing to help other students as an internship ambassador and academic coach.

TWU alumna approaches work, life with ‘equanimity’

Whether it’s pursuits in business, technology, magazine publishing or philanthropy, Texas Woman’s University alumna Lumbie Mlambo’s approach reveals two things: relentless passion and a philosophy of “equanimity,” or balance and composure in the face of adversity.

Hardscrabble youth guided path for first Texas Latina Congresswoman

Growing up in a South Texas farming community with nine brothers and sisters was a struggle for Sylvia Garcia’s family, and that taught her about hard work and perseverance.

Being active in student government while attending Texas Woman’s University ignited a passion in her for public service, and that taught her about leadership.

TWU grad student shares passion for political science, registers students to vote

With a passion for saving the environment, Texas Woman’s graduate student Renee Phetsopha splits her time between registering students to vote and conducting lab research with adjunct faculty member Gustavo Salazar Garza, PhD.

From first year to PT grad student, Mathis’ light shined brighter

It seems like Monica Mathis (DPT '20) is always moving. That’s not exactly unexpected for a physical therapy graduate student, but with Mathis, if you blink, she might already be on to her next commitment. In the five and a half years she’s been at TWU, Mathis hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down – from her first year as a shy, soft-spoken undergraduate kinesiology major to the outgoing, confident student in the physical therapy graduate program she is today.

Outdoor Nation Campus Ambassador leads students on Grand Canyon trip

As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, Kaitlyn Houser (B.S. '19) dreamed of encouraging others to get outside and experience nature. When Texas Woman’s University joined Outdoor Nation (ON), she found the perfect opportunity to inspire students to get active on campus. Today, as TWU’s ON Campus Ambassador, she is taking it one step further and inspiring others to witness nature off campus.

TWU student strives to increase access to physical therapy care

Although she has only just begun her second year in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Texas Woman's University Institute of Health Sciences – Houston Center, Meagan Ortega has already made a lasting impact in both her professional and local communities.

Passion for volunteerism motivates TWU student to fight human trafficking

Guadalupe Resendiz didn't waste a second of her senior year in the Texas Woman’s social work program. In between a packed class schedule, Resendiz also explored her passion for volunteer work. After discovering the International Studies Abroad (ISA) program, an education abroad affiliated partner with TWU, Resendiz found an opportunity to merge two of her passions - school and volunteer work through missions.

Principal’s leadership role rooted in TWU sorority

As a Texas Woman’s University transfer student in the 1990s, Angeles González spotted a magazine picture of several college women all wearing matching shirts with Greek letters on them – and the women all looked like her. The sorority was at a college in Pennsylvania, she remembered, and she reached out to the organization to see about establishing a new chapter at TWU.

Rodriguez mentors TWU first-generation students transitioning to college

As executive director of TWU’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach (DIO), Becky Rodriguez draws on her experiences as a first-generation Latina student to serve as a mentor and create programs for TWU students just like her.

Jurist’s career path fuels passion for mentoring others

Her sisters drew her to Texas Woman’s University, a professor boosted her admission to law school, and a series of mentors helped her navigate a tight path to a federal bench. Now, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses is helping others find solid footing of their own.

TWU graduate turns traditional nutrition coaching upside down

Joan Denton (MS '18) knew she wanted to be a registered dietitian, but never felt at ease in a hospital. When she expressed her interests to one of her Texas Woman’s University nutrition professors, Denton discovered she could be categorized as a “culinary dietitian.” This set Denton on to create her own path in the field of nutrition.

TWU student’s artwork wins top prize in national art contest

For Hannah Werchan, art doesn’t imitate life. Life inspires art.

The senior art student at Texas Woman’s University has created an entire series of self-portrait oil paintings that can attest to that.

Texas Woman’s professor brings the world to her classroom

You might have trouble finding caterpillars, termites and fermented milk on store shelves in Texas, but, as a Texas Woman’s University global perspectives class learned in the Spring 2018 semester, these are staples in South Africa.

Through a unique partnership, Nutrition and Food Sciences assistant professor Monique LeMieux, PhD, took an introductory Food and Culture class to the next level by co-teaching with a professor from the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in South Africa.

Serving marginalized people is passion for TWU grad student

Almost as far back as she can remember, Texas Woman’s University graduate student Deyaun Seale has longed for a career in the health care industry. Helping others is important to her, and that’s her passion.

When her mother was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, it hit Seale hard. That her mom is a cancer survivor and is herself pursing a degree in nursing is inspiring. That’s what motivates Seale.

Businesswoman inspires others to lead, makes record gift to TWU

Mary L.A. Stanton has had many titles in her life, including mother, wife, world traveler, investor and business owner. But one title she's especially proud of is Texas Woman's University alumna.

Page last updated 4:15 PM, November 5, 2019