2016 News Releases

Student successes highlight commencement May 11, 13-14

Watch a live stream of the commencement ceremonies.

The Spring 2016 semester at Texas Woman’s University will draw to a close with commencement ceremonies scheduled Wednesday, May 11 in Houston and Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14 on TWU’s Denton campus.

The Houston ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. May 11 in the Tudor Field House at Rice University. Ashley McClellan, chief executive officer of The Woman’s Hospital of Texas and a TWU alumna, will deliver the commencement address. Approximately 202 degrees will be awarded during the Houston ceremony.

The Denton ceremonies include candidates from TWU’s Dallas Center. Approximately 1,500 degrees will be awarded during the May 13-14 ceremonies, which will take place May 13-14 in the Kitty Magee Arena of Pioneer Hall, located on Bell Avenue. Ceremony I is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, May 13. Grace Daniels, area manager for ONCOR and a TWU alumna, is the guest speaker. Ceremony 2 begins at 1 p.m. with guest speaker Neva Cochran, a nutrition communications consultant and TWU alumna. Ceremony III begins at 4 p.m. with Sarah Jackson, director of public affairs for the Dallas Citizens Council, delivering the commencement address.

Lillie M. Biggins, president of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and a Distinguished TWU Alumna, will deliver the commencement address during Ceremony IV, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14. Ceremony V is scheduled for 2 p.m. Vicki Davis, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Texas A&M University-Commerce and a TWU alumna, will address the graduates.

For more information on commencement ceremonies, visit our Commencement Ceremony Information page.

A number of students walking across stages in Denton and Houston this year have remarkable stories of significant achievement, including:


  • Sabrenda Littles and Elizabeth Larkin, both graduating in the Houston ceremony, are both receiving doctorate clinical degrees, and both also are pursuing Ph.D. degrees. Littles, a major in the Army Nurse Corp, is receiving her doctorate of nursing practice in Wednesday’s ceremony and will achieve her Ph.D. in December. She has traveled around the world via her military career and as part of the TWU Center for Global Nursing Scholarship. Littles says this has influenced her long-term goal to establish nursing schools in developing countries. Larkin’s professors and classmates rallied around her when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Larkin will receive her doctorate of physical therapy, or D.P.T., during Wednesday’s ceremony and soon will achieve her Ph.D. in physical therapy. She says the degrees complement each other and will open doors for her to pursue both of her passions – treating patients and teaching.
  • Fifty Honors Scholars and 14 Touchstone Scholars graduating.
  • Davina Hollin will receive her bachelor’s degree in social work. Hollin spent seven years in foster care due to her father’s incarceration and her mother’s drug abuse. She is a member of the TWU Frontiers Program, which provides support and guidance for students who grew up in the foster care system and are attending TWU. Hollin will begin her new job at Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home in Denton, where she will help foster youth like she once was. In addition, she has been selected for the prestigious All Star Internship Program at the Foster Club in Seaside, Oregon, which she will complete this summer. She plans to eventually obtain her master of social work degree.
  • Identical twins Lucas and Luis Espinoza both will receive Ph.D. degrees in sociology. They are the first in their family to earn doctorate degrees. Lucas has accepted a tenure track assistant professor of criminal justice position at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Luis has accepted a visiting assistant professor of health studies position at TWU.
  • Marcy Paul will receive the university’s first Ph.D. in women’s studies. Since TWU is the first university in Texas and the first in the South Central Region to offer a Ph.D. in this field, her achievement is a historic occurrence for the university, Texas and the region.
  • Earlier this year, the Research Chefs Association announced the designation of TWU as the first approved Culinology® program in Texas to offer a bachelor of applied science degree in culinary science and food service management. Three students of this program will graduate this spring and already have prestigious jobs or internships in the industry. Walter Rivas has accepted a job in food service management at the Medical Center of Plano. Rachel Reel will start a job with Precise Food Ingredients in Carrollton. Michelle Tribble, who currently is a lead line cook at Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck in Dallas and placed third during season 14 of Hell’s Kitchen, will start as an intern at the test kitchens of PepsiCo.
  • TWU also will celebrate the first graduates of its Dental Hygiene Dual Enrollment Program with Tyler Junior College. Ashlee BakerBreanna Draper, Shelby Strickland and Heather Williams are the first graduates of the first dual community college and university program of this kind in Texas, in the U.S. and possibly the world.
  • Tamiel Turley, a 37-year-old mother of four who dropped out of high school and was told she shouldn’t aspire to be anything more than a secretary, will receive her bachelor of science in biology. She has been accepted to graduate school at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where she will pursue her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and expand upon her research in molecular pharmacogenomics precision medicine, which is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs.
  • TWU’s first Terry Scholar graduate, Savannah Peer, will participate in Ceremony III, though she actually completed her bachelor of arts in English in December. Starting her career as the digital marketing manager for Good Life Family magazine and moving into her first apartment left her too busy to participate in winter commencement. Peer also is TWU’s first transfer student to receive a Terry Scholarship.
  • Beth Foster will receive her Ph.D. in kinesiology. Foster was named the 2012 Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance adapted physical education teacher of the year. Beth has served as the sports director for Camp Abilities —  a summer camp for children with visual impairments —  in Pennsylvania and as the assistant director for Camp Abilities in Texas, which is held at TWU, and as a  sport coach for Camp Abilities in New York. She just was elected as a Member at Large for the National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities. After graduation, Foster s off to California State University-Pomona in the fall to be in charge of the university’s motor activities program that has been in existence for more than 20 years.
  • Tracy Jolivette will receive her master of library science degree. She was selected last summer for a highly competitive internship with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program in the nation’s capital. She spent the summer working as a librarian for the Bureau of Land Management, where she created a file management plan for the Washington, D.C. office – something that had never before been done. Jolivette, who is African-American, was eligible for the internship through TWU’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).


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Karen Garcia
Communication Specialist

Page last updated 11:54 AM, November 6, 2019