TWU to honor alumni and student excellence at Accolades Luncheon April 21

Texas Woman’s University and the TWU Alumni Association will honor outstanding alumni and graduating students during the TWU Accolades Luncheon on Friday, April 21.

The event will recognize recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Hallmark Alumni honoree and the Outstanding TWU Students.

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Helen Benjamin, M.Ed. 1977, Ph.D. 1989, retired chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District in San Pablo, California; and Donna Alexandra Israel, Ph.D. 1992, founder of Fitness Formula, Inc. and Professional Nutrition Therapists, LLC.

The 2017 Hallmark Alumni Award recipient is Mandy Goff, M.S. 2008, high performance manager, USA Wheelchair Rugby at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Since the 1960s, the TWU Alumni Association has honored selected graduating students for their excellence in scholarship and service by naming them Outstanding TWU Undergraduate and Outstanding TWU Graduate Students.

The 2016-2017 Outstanding Seniors are:

Alexandria Goldberg of Prosper, a music major;

Michelle Gonnet of Mesquite, a marketing major;

Katherine Kellett of Arlington, a government major;

Gaby Larson of Arlington, a psychology major; and

Nadiyah Suleiman of Nocona, an English major.


The 2016-2017 Outstanding Graduate Students are:

Almas Ali of Carrollton, a master’s of business administration major;

Sabrenda Littles of Houston, a Ph.D. in nursing graduate (fall 2016);

Pallavi Panth of Kerala, India, a Ph.D. in nutrition candidate;

Tawny LeBouef Tullia of Lafayette, Louisiana, a Ph.D. in rhetoric candidate;

Remya Ammassam Veettil of Kerala, India, a Ph.D. in biology candidate; and

Katie Walker of Humble, a Ph.D. in reading candidate.


Helen Benjamin

Helen Benjamin graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1977 with a Master of Education in Supervision and Reading and also in 1989 with a Ph.D. in English. She also received a Bachelor of Science in English from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas.

Her career in education began as a classroom teacher in Dallas. Later she embarked on an administrative career, first with Bishop College and later with the Dallas County Community College District. In 2016, capping off a 44 year career in secondary and higher education, Benjamin retired as chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District located in the San Francisco Bay area. She began her affiliation with the District as dean of language arts and humanistic studies at Los Medanos College in 1990 and then held progressively higher level positions including vice-chancellor and interim chancellor. Benjamin was the first African-American and first woman president selected to serve in a permanent role as president of Contra Costa Community College District, which serves more than 53,000 students and maintains a $200 million operating budget.

Benjamin maintains an active role in a variety of professional and community organizations, many committed to increasing opportunities for students of color and increasing access to education for economically disadvantaged individuals. She worked tirelessly for the improvement of community and junior colleges everywhere. For the state of California, she has served as chair of numerous statewide accreditation visiting teams and as president of the California Community Colleges CEOs. In addition, she has served as the president of the board of the Community College League of California and chair of the California Promise Leadership Team. On the national level, she holds the distinction of being the first community college representative appointed by Congress to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Benjamin also served as the convener of the Presidents’ Round Table of Community College African American CEOs and on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges.

With Darroch Young, Benjamin is co-author of Harvest from the Vineyard: Lessons Learned from the Vineyard Symposiums (2016) and a contributor to the Chocolate Truth: An Anthology of Perspectives from Community College CEO’s (2012). She was named the 2014 Mentor of the Year by the National Council on Black American Affairs. President Barack Obama also selected her to serve as a member of his Commission on the Future.

Donna Alexandra Israel

Donna Israel received her Ph. D. in Nutrition and Food Science from Texas Woman’s University in 1982. She also holds a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Texas and graduated cum laude from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Sociology and History.

Israel served as founder and president of The Fitness Formula, Inc., a company that provided medical nutrition therapy to businesses and corporations as a benefit to their employees. Most recently she led Professional Nutrition Therapists, LLC, as its CEO. Professional Nutrition Therapists a health care organization targeting nutrition intervention for corporate and private clients, which has a network of professionals nationwide.

Prior to retirement, Israel held many certifications in her field and was active in numerous professional organizations. She retains her designation as a Registered Dietician, While actively practicing she was awarded numerous accolades, including the national award for Excellence in Consultation and Private Practice Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and was named a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2014. She was awarded the Texas Distinguished Dietitian award and given a national award from the Public Broadcasting System for a 26 segment series about nutrition that she produced. The city of Richardson also awarded her the Women of Achievement Award.

Israel has provided more than 1,000 lectures and presentation in 42 states and most Canadian provinces discussing many aspects of nutrition practice. In addition, she has an impressive list of publications that span her 30-year career. She has contributed to or authored more than 25 books on a wide variety of topics related to nutrition and health. Israel estimates that she has provided mentoring or internship opportunities for some 500 students, many who have gone on to attain leadership roles in the profession.

Israel served on the Board of Directors for Head Start and the Women’s Advisory Board for Richardson (Methodist) Hospital. She has supported the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the Alzheimer’s Association, among other community organizations.

Mandy Goff

Mandy Goff received a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Adapted Physical Activity from Texas Woman’s University in 2008.  In 2002, after receiving an Associate of Arts from New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs, New Mexico, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of North Texas. During her study at Texas Woman’s, Mandy served as an intern at Lakeshore Foundation, a non-profit organization, a designated Olympic and Paralympic Training Site in Birmingham, Alabama.  As part of their mission, they serve people with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions through physical activity, research, and advocacy. Additionally, Lakeshore serves as the High Performance Management Organization for USA Wheelchair Rugby through a contractual obligation with the United States Olympic Committee. The internship resulted in her employment at Lakeshore and ultimately placed her in her current role as the high performance manager for the USA Wheelchair Rugby team. Her responsibilities include the overall program management of the national team, which includes coordinating team selections and high performance training plans.  

When first arriving at Lakeshore Foundation, her role was the coordinator of the Lima Foxtrot Program for Injured Military.  This program aims to provide adapted sport and recreation opportunities for injured servicemen and women.  After serving in that position for three years, she was promoted to the role of associate director of Athletics and Recreation, continuing to be involved with the Lima Foxtrot Program and taking on leadership of the youth athletic programs, and team leader for the organization. 

Goff’s career highlights include her leadership role in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, where USA Wheelchair Rugby won the bronze medal and then again at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games where the team captured the silver medal. Goff has become a valued consultant across the nation for program development, writing and programming in her field including both the Warrior and Invictus Games.

Alexandria Goldberg

Alexandria Goldberg will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Texas Professional Certificate in Music Education in May 2017. In addition to being co-director of the University Band and performing with the Jazz Ensemble and Concert Choir, she serves as a mentor in local schools and numerous organizations.

Michelle Gonnet

Michelle Gonnet is graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing in May 2017. She was a member of the 2016 Enactus National Showcase and is a TWU Honors Scholars and Pioneer Ambassador.

Katherine Kellett

Katherine Kellett is receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Government with emphasis in Legal Studies and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology in 2017. She served as vice president for the inaugural Terry Scholars Mentor Program and is a TWU Honors Scholars and Pioneer Ambassador. She also is co-founder and co-president of SATS – Students Against Trafficking and Slavery.

Gaby Larson

Gaby Larson will complete a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2017. As captain of the TWU soccer team, she promotes team goals and opportunities on and off the field. Her achievements include Lone Star Conference Academic Player of the Year in 2015. With a 3.97 GPA, she is one of only two women’s soccer players in the Lone Star Conference named to the All-Academic team for three consecutive years.

Nadiyah Suleiman

Nadiyah Suleiman will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in May 2017. She is a Touchstone Honors Scholar and has a 4.0 GPA. She served as the Editor for the Daedalian, TWU’s literary journal, and directed the Little Pioneer Book Drive for The Clubhouse, a program for TWU students with children.

Almas Ali

Almas Ali will receive a Master of Business Administration degree with emphasis in Accounting in May 2017. She is a member of the Leadership Institute and Phi Kappa Phi and received the Financial Executive International Award and Texas State Board of Public Accountancy’s Outstanding Student Award from the School of Management.

Sabrenda Littles

Sabrenda Littles received a Ph.D. in Nursing Science in December 2016. She is a three-time TWU alumna, previously earning a doctorate of nursing practice and an MBA from the TWU Houston Campus. A veteran, she completed three U.S. Army tours while attending TWU.

Pallavi Panth

Pallavi Panth will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nutrition in May 2017. Panth has been invited to present her research on micronutrient nutrition locally and internationally; including the first clinical trials of its kind to be conducted in the U.S. Combining research, scholarship, employment, and service have enabled her to make a positive impact on issues related to women’s health and development.

Tawny LeBouef Tullia

Tawny LeBouef Tullia will receive a PhD. in Rhetoric in May 2017. As a founding member and Chairperson for the Graduate Student Council, she worked to increase opportunities and strengthen the voice of graduate students on committees and in shared campus governance.

Remya Ammassam Veettil

Remya Ammassam Veettil will receive a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in May 2017. Her combined activities include serving as president of Phi Kappa Phi and being the TWU’s Hub Ideas Competition 2016 Grand Prize recipient. Active in professional organizations, she has multiple presentations and publications to her credit.

Katie Walker

Katie Walker will complete a Ph.D. in Reading in June 2017. She has immersed herself in research, publications, presentations and committees including the TEA Title III Symposium and Spicola Forum. Her activities in Alpha Upsilon Alpha and Phi Kappa Phi strengthened her position as an educator and advocate for English as a Second Language and to develop a Summer Language Academy for beginning and intermediate level English learners.

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Page last updated 4:30 PM, May 6, 2021