A Global Perspective

Frances-Honeycutt-DSC_0131(AVATAR) (2)Frances (Ward) Honeycutt, B. S., 1998, Mass Communications, understands the phrase “global perspective” in a very unique way.  In her position as Director of Global Business Development for  POLARIS Laboratories® this TWU alumna sees the countries of the world through the eyes of the industries that make things run.  Transportation, oil and gas, construction, power generation, industrial plants and marine industries are her customers.  And yes, she is often the only female at the table or on site in these traditionally male industries.  And yes, she  works remotely from her home in Tulsa, OK.

As it turns out, Frances grew up living in and going to school in a number of countries in Europe.  As an army brat we moved on average of every 18 months until I was 18 and attended TWU.  I became accustomed to meeting new people because of the frequent moving. In total, she lived abroad for seven years in Germany, Wales, and London where Frances graduated from high school.  I look back on those times now with a great deal of fondness because the bonds I made in the boarding school in London.  Those are the greatest friendships I have today because we became each other’s “chosen family.” 

Living abroad was the perfect training for the work that Frances does now.  I immersed myself in the cultures and appreciated and respected the nuances that make us different.  I couple the ability to communicate with anyone with the understanding that, while I am proud of my American heritage, I respect, understand and appreciate the perspective of other cultures from having lived abroad.  I had no idea at the time that my upbringing was preparing me for my career, but I am so thankful that it did. 

Between her junior and senior years in high school in London (where she attended a very small American high school for military dependents) she and her father toured colleges in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas but all of them felt enormous and overwhelming.  Her cousin had graduated from TWU some years prior and so her father suggested that they stop by the campus.  It felt much more manageable to me, like I was going to be a part of a family as opposed to another number just filling a seat in a course.  So, when I got back to London, I applied and was accepted!

Frances remembers Charles Orbison, a TWU professor in a writing class that she took.  Charlie made classes fun and memorable.  It would have been around 1996 and I remember him telling us that one day we would be reading news papers on portable flat computers instead of reading the paper version…wow, he was so right!   Even the forward thinking Professor Orbison might be amazed at how Frances employs technology today to accomplish her work.  Read on…

Upon graduation from TWU Frances took a position, and soon excelled, with PR Newswire in Dallas and Tulsa, OK.  Her next position as Director of Conference and Seminars with Noria gave her exposure to the world of industrial lubricants, experience in planning and marketing large conferences as well as marketing and selling to a global audience.

Taken in 2012, this is Frances standing in the bucket of a wheel loader at MinExpo, a trade show.

Taken in 2012, this is Frances standing in the bucket of a wheel loader at MinExpo, an industry trade show.

In 2010, Frances, living in Tulsa, became the Marketing Manager for a products company based in Wisconsin.  She began to utilize technology to become a remote employee.  This is still her work model as she directs business development for POLARIS and its laboratories with customers world-wide all from her home base.  There are several reasons this model works well for her.  The nature of my business requires that there are many days in a month when my business hours are vastly different from the corporate office in Indiana.  My schedule needs to be fluid on some days in order to meet the needs of my customers and my team.  I could potentially have meetings with a customer in Bangladesh at midnight one day, followed by a meeting with my team in Poland at 6:00am the next day.  I use  many different types of media to communicate with my team and my customers including the traditional e-mail and phone to virtual web meetings and Skype. 

But working remotely takes commitment to overcome the isolation and remain committed to the job at hand.  You have to create an actual working space in your home that is separate from the living space.  I also get “dressed and ready” every day.  I have always subscribed to the philosophy that you need the dress the part and working from home is no exception.  The remote workplace model also requires the trust of the company.  My company had to trust that I would do the job I had been tasked to do when I joined the organization and ultimately they trust that I will give them 100% every day. 

Sugar3 PabloMecoil for newsletter

But the position also requires extensive, world wide travel.  Shown here in Guatemala, Frances is photographed with a plant Maintenance Manager (left photo) and two of her sales managers for Central America.  They are standing on the platform at a plant of the third largest sugar producer in Latin American.  In the second photo on the right Frances is visiting a company in Italy, learning about a new, real-time diagnostic tool that monitors the oil condition and its application for stationary equipment from the product’s creators.

When asked about being in a position most often held by men, Frances has a simple philosophy.  I just try to be myself.  My knowledge of the market and the industry should speak for itself.  My gender (or theirs) should not be part of the equation.  I’m the only woman in the world that does what I do — Global Business Development for a used oil analysis laboratory and  I am very proud of my accomplishments.

TWU is very proud of Frances’ accomplishments, too, and wishes her many more successful years in her profession!








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A View from the Top – University Housing

Looking toward downtown Denton

Looking toward downtown Denton

TWU’s Office of University Housing held its second annual View from the Top event to showcase University Housing and allow attendees to support the TWU Housing Leadership Scholarship Fund.

On May 29 the community enjoyed a panoramic view of Denton and North Texas from the 24th floor of TWU’s Guinn Hall, the highest point between Dallas and Oklahoma City.  The come-and-go event featured desserts, amazing views, music and a Texas sunset.  Be sure to stay alert for the next View from the Top event, and although this one has already passed, you can still support the Housing Scholarship fund.

Music at the View event

Music at the View event

In 2013 TWU University Housing created a scholarship fund to award TWU residential students who exemplify qualities of leadership and service by giving back to their community.  University Housing recognizes the important value and contributions of students who engage in leadership and community service while making a positive difference in the lives of others.  Email TWU Director of Housing, Dr. Joe Berthiaume (JBerthiaume@twu.edu) or call 940-898-3676 to ask questions or support this important effort.

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TWU Distinguished Alumni – Where Are They Now?

Hon. Sylvia Garcia, B. S. 1972, Social Work

Hon. Sylvia Garcia, B. S. 1972, Social Work

The Hon. Sylvia Garcia

When Sylvia Garcia was recognized as a TWU Distinguished Alumna in1994, she was an attorney serving as Director and Presiding Judge of the City of Houston Municipal Courts.  Her career path has taken her from there to county public office and now to Austin where she has been appointed to fill the State Senator term for District 6, an area encompassing parts of Houston and as far south as Galveston. Senator Garcia remembers her time at TWU and the impact her education had on her distinguished career.

TWU Alumni Connection:  How did you come to enroll at TWUMy family chose TWU because two aunts from both sides of my family- Consuelo Rodriguez and Armandina Garcia- had attended TSCW. It was affordable and familiar to my family. We knew we could put our trust in a “girl’s school” and the environment would be safe.

TWU Alumni Connection: Tell us something about your TWU experience.   It was a great experience, particularly in my area of study, social work and leadership development. I couldn’t have been better prepared for both. The social work practicum gave me a hands-on experience that was invaluable. It allowed me to see firsthand what social work was really all about. It helped my resume, which resulted in finding a good job in my field immediately after graduating. Likewise, my student government activities gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills which brought me where I am today.

TWU Alumni Connection: What does being a TWU graduate mean to you? It means the world to me. Growing up poor in South Texas, I never dreamed I would go to college. TWU gave me a chance with a scholarship for students with high academic achievement from low-income areas. Like many students, I worked and also utilized student loans. But most of all, TWU focused on building a foundation for women in a variety of disciplines, some of which were not traditionally open to women.

TWU Alumni Connection: How did your experience at TWU help prepare you for success in your career?  TWU gave me opportunity to develop my leadership skills. I am not sure I would have been able to hone my leadership skills in a coed or larger university. TWU offered a safe and intimate setting for women to learn how to use their voices and be heard in male dominated world.

TWU Alumni Connection: How did the education you received from TWU influence your career choice and/or objectives? But for TWU, I would not have been exposed to social work as an option. It built on my family’s principles and my Catholic faith teachings of service and taking care of your neighbor. It brought it to a higher level that has stayed with me, no matter which position I have held- social worker, legal aid lawyer, Judge, Houston City Controller, Harris County Commissioner and now State Senator.

TWU Alumni Connection: How did your time at TWU impact your life and/or values?  My time at TWU impacted me tremendously. I often think that I will always be a social worker at heart. Public service is a calling and my passion. It is about helping people and making a difference in their lives, just as I was taught at TWU School of Social Work.

Thank you, Senator Garcia!  We applaud your heart to serve and your accomplishments!





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Vintage Lass-O


In the next few issues of the TWU Alumni Connection we will highlight an entry from a vintage Lass-O (now Lasso), the TWU student newspaper that will be celebrating 100 years in fall of 2014.

This 1934 poem, advice from a Big Sis to a Little Sis, cautioned against the habit of borrowing others’ clothing.  It made us smile and we hope you enjoy it, too.

Dear Little Sis:

All dwell alike in peace and light together,

Each wears the covering that “Nacher” gave it;

They never swap a single skin or feather.

So be it with you in your college days, dear,

Wear your own clothes — and let who will be clever –

Beware of starting things it’s hard to finish

and don’t begin a thing like that –not ever!

Another suit may look much better on you–

May be far more your type–much more your style,

It’s not the cost; as usual, it’s the upkeep;

And clothes wear out in such a little while.

So gird that ole will-power all about you,

Your beauty and possibilities fore-swearing;

You may be far more stunning than the owner-

She bought ‘em, Gorgeous; let her do the wearing!

She may have stacks and gobs and scads and jillions-

That doesn’t change the situation – much,

The ‘something old, the new and blue’ we grant you,

Let’s leave the borrowed togs to brides and such.

You may not feel so strongly on the subject,

Denounce me, if you like – and burn this letter-

Go on and be the best-dressed on the campus,

But be it in YOUR OWN -you’ll like it better -

Sympathetically, YOUR BIG SIS

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A Chance to Dance

For Leah McGee, 2011, Doctor of Physical Therapy, A Chance to Dance, the organization she founded, is the perfect combination of passion, opportunity, and knowledge. A Chance to Dance is a Lake Jackson, TX based non-profit that provides professional dance instruction to children with special needs.  Leah holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from Baylor University with a major in health science studies and a minor in dance.  Her advanced degree is from TWU Institute of Health Sciences – Houston Center and she works as a licensed physical therapist.  TWU Alumni Connection interviewed Leah about what inspired her, what her biggest challenges have been and what she sees for the future of A Chance to Dance.  We wish you all the best, Leah!

ACTD Logo by DA designWhen did you start A Chance to Dance?  What or who served as your inspiration?   In 2010, A Chance to Dance (ACTD) began simply as a dance class at a local studio in Clute, TX.  After the first semester, it became clear the program would flourish best as its own entity, so in January of 2011, ACTD was established as a non-profit corporation.   http://www.achancetodance.org/

Identifying one event or person responsible for my inspiration is difficult.  I’ve had a love for music and dance since I was born and am blessed to have parents who afforded me the opportunity to start dance classes at age 3.  Dance is a part of who I am and in my soul I’ve always known I wanted to incorporate dance in my life and in the lives of others.  My Mom was, and is involved with special education.  I was fortunate enough to see and hear about different types of children with special needs when I was growing up.  The experiences my mother shared greatly influenced my future decisions.  I remember as early as college, telling my roommate that one day I wanted to the chance to teach dance to children with special needs.

IMG_7086Dance is such a multi-faceted art.  Dance is a way to express yourself, a way to tell a story, a way to keep your body healthy and fit, and to socialize and have fun.  Unfortunately, these children often aren’t given the same opportunities that most of us are given in life, including the chance to participate in art and sports.  Dance has left an impression on my life and I wanted to share that with children who see and face the world in different ways.  My inspiration comes from the love of this art expressed through the unique abilities that I find in these children each day.

I began ACTD as a student physical therapist studying at TWU-Houston and this served as the final piece to the puzzle.  Learning the clinical skills required to physically teach a child in a wheelchair or a child who has difficulty making sense of their environment equipped me with the tools I needed to make my dream a reality.  It was the perfect combination of Passion, Opportunity, and Knowledge.

ACTD web

What has been your biggest challenge as you moved forward?   The biggest challenge initially was building a curriculum from scratch.  In 2010, there wasn’t much research or public information on adaptive dance.  I researched the evidence on the techniques and benefits of therapeutic dance, adaptive ballet, and so forth.  In fact, this research was compiled as a Critical Appraisal Topic (CAT) I submitted as an assignment in physical therapy (PT) school at TWU.  Not knowing how to structure the class elements, define our expectations of the students, or create the criteria of eligibility for the program was difficult.  Simply put, shaping the content of the program around the heart of our mission was challenging.  Fortunately, my Artistic Director, Kyndell Goff, was by my side and brought forth all of her expertise as a dance instructor from main-stream studios and as school teacher for children with autism.  Together, we combined her expertise, and experience with my research and clinical skill to develop a solid foundation for ACTD.  The next challenge was navigating the business aspect of our venture.  We had to educate ourselves on lots of basic business principles and sought help from local business owners.

Dance ClassAs our program has become more defined over the years, the challenge  I face now is continuing to create and learn ways to maximize each child’s function in our program.  Each student is truly unique in his or her needs and so is the way they express themselves through the art of dance, which requires an ever-evolving innovative approach to bring out the very best in each of our dancers.

Is there a particular memory or occasion that you hold as special?   There are so many precious memories that I have from ACTD.  One dancer thanked me for teaching her how to dance- the irony is that truly, she had taught me so much more in my two and half years with her.  I may have given her words to call movements and a room with mirrors that she can move in, but she has taught me that dance transcends past the limbs and technique.  It is much grander than that.  Dance is better captured as the fulfillment of a limitless spirit free of physical barriers.  In almost 20 years of dancing, it took this student and these dancers to truly teach me that.  It’s one thing to know that dance moves past the body, and quite another thing to feel it in your heart that dance is part of the soul.

How did you come to enroll at TWU? Have you kept in touch with the department there in Houston?  Have you returned to speak to classes about your experience?   TWU-Houston was my top choice school for physical therapy, not only because of its high reputation, but also because of the easy access to The Medical Center and the structure of the program itself.  I have definitely kept in touch with the school and continue to attend the annual research day each year.  I lectured on pediatric orthopedics in 2013 and I’ve been lucky enough to receive an invitation to return this year.  I have also enjoyed teaching their current students in the clinical setting at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Houston, where I currently work.  I would love to speak more about adaptive arts and creating opportunities for children as a physical therapist.  It is a great honor to be a part of their lives.  Quite frankly, PT school gave me the rest of the tools I needed to make ACTD a reality.  Realizing that one’s potential as a therapist expands past rehabilitation is enlightening and will move our profession forward.

Recital day - Leah with instructor Kyndell and one of the dancers

Recital day – Leah with Artistic Director, Kyndell, and one of the dancers

What do you see as the future for A Chance to Dance?   I hope to see ACTD become an inspiration and/or model for other studios in hopes of empowering them to create their own programs for children with special needs.  They are most definitely an underserved population and I look forward to sharing all that I have learned in order to make this happen.  I’d also like to see the local program continue to grow to include the older teenage population and I foresee this happening as our current students continue to age.  I was able to meet and discuss curriculum with the director of the Houston Ballet adaptive ballet class prior to its start in 2012, and I would love for ACTD to have more opportunities like this in the Houston area.  I’ve had a few TWU students come and observe/volunteer with our classes at ACTD and I hope to see this continue as well.  Video of Recital  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iILupYwVNdo

An undocumented goal of our program that is inherent to the art of dance is for our students to find their own way to create motion and dance, and to be confident of their motion, especially when taking the stage to perform.  I hope that we are able to allow some of our dancer’s dreams to become realities.

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SMARTTTEL – An Innovative TWU Project

Thanks to a TWU program in Teacher Education, teachers in north Texas rural and small schools will receive training in methods for teaching in classrooms where an increasing number of students are learning English as they study their subjects.  TWU alumnae, Karen Crooks,  2008, B. S. Education and Janae Terry, 1999, B. S. Communication are members of the first cohort of teachers to participate in SMARTTTEL (Science and Mathematics for ALL: Rural Teacher Training through Technology for English Learners), a program was developed by Associate Professor, Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas.

Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas, Associate Professor of Teacher Education is creator and supervisor of SMARTTEL.

Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas, Associate Professor of Teacher Education is creator and supervisor of SMARTTEL.

TWU Associate professor, Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas describes SMARTTTEL as a collaborative professional development program between TWU, 14 school districts in north Texas and the Education Service Center of Region XI.  The project is sponsored by the Office of English Language Acquisition and the U. S. Department of Education.  Dr. Hansen-Thomas whose specialty is English as a Second Language, realized that teachers in rural and small schools were facing increasing student diversity in their class rooms just as teachers in urban schools were.  However, few professional development programs were available to assist those in rural communities.  Schools that are partners with SMARTTTEL to date are Aubrey ISD, Decatur ISD, Godley ISD, Krum ISD, Little Elm ISD, Millsap ISD, Pilot Point ISD, Poolville ISD, Rio Vista ISD, Texas Education Centers, Tolar ISD and Valley View ISD.  Learn more about the SMARTTTEL program and its services at the official website.

Karen Crooks has better been able to serve her students at Carson Elementary because of SMARTTTEL.

Karen Crooks has better been able to serve her students at Carson Elementary in Decatur because of SMARTTTEL.

Karen Crooks has had a positive experience with SMARTTTEL in its inaugural year.  “It is teaching me how to better understand the needs and background of English Language Learning students, the best strategies to use, and even more about the second language acquisition process.  The knowledge I am gaining will allow me to impact the students so that they can become more successful in science and math.” 

Alumna Janae Terry is one of the class of teachers to receive SMARTTEL training.  She's shown here with her granddaughter, Kylie.

Alumna Janae Terry is one of the class of teachers to receive SMARTTEL training. She’s shown here with her granddaughter, Kylie.

TWU alumna, Janae Terry, feels honored to be a part of the first SMARTTTEL cohort.  “From this program I have gained a better understanding of diversity in education.  As teachers we need to be aware of the changing society in which we live and seek to educate ourselves in the strategies needed to teach in such diversity.”  She notes, “I will not only be able to share what I have learned from the SMARTTTEL program with teachers from my school but also incorporate these strategies in my daily instruction and interactions with my students.”

As she visited the schools, Dr. Hansen-Thomas recognized an additional benefit of the program.  “Not only is it filling an important need — that of better preparing rural and small school district teachers to meet the needs of their English Language Learners — but also of promoting TWU in the wider community.”  When she visits the schools she sees the teachers wearing TWU shirts and promoting the university to students.  “I think our effect is far reaching and beneficial!”

SMARTTEL orientation

Teachers from the cooperating schools participate in an orientation session.

Although most instruction for SMARTTTEL is done online, the incoming cohort, shown here, does meet for an orientation session.

Although most instruction for SMARTTTEL is done online, the incoming cohort, shown here, does meet for an orientation session.

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The Op Ed Project – Diversity of Voices

Public Voices Thought Leadership Program

A Successful Example of “Learning By Doing”

The Department of History and Government with the Op-Ed Project


Op Ed ProjectHosted in the Department of History and Government, Texas Woman’s University is proud to be a leader in increasing the diversity of voices and ideas in the world today as they sponsored the year-long Public Voices Thought Leadership Program, a part of the Op-Ed Project. Along with Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Fordham, Northwestern, and Emory, Texas Woman’s University worked with the journalists and editors of the Op-Ed Project to train women (who are currently only 20% of opinion page writers) to share their knowledge and expertise first through the writing and publication of Opinion Editorials and then through other medium such as radio, television, and even testimony before the state legislature.

Texas Woman’s University, following their commitment to civic engagement, worked with the generous funding of the Boone Family Foundation and the Embry Family Foundation to bring the program to the Dallas area. With the help of the foundations TWU was able to create a unique program that has become a model for future Op-Ed Project programs. While other Universities restricted the opportunity to be a fellow to only their own faculty, TWU saw the chance to reach into the community and lift the voices of women leaders of Dallas area non-profits. The combination of TWU faculty fellows and non-profit fellows has been electrifying.

The success rate of the TWU Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellows has been far and away the most successful of any Op-Ed program. The TWU fellows had a 400% success rate publishing fifty opinion pieces, as well as appearing on radio and television. The women placed their work in The Dallas Morning News, CNN, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, Aljazeera, and more. One fellow stood with the Mayor of Dallas as he called on men to end violence against women, another testified before the state legislature, and yet another was the prominent voice in an NPR program on immigrant laborers.

The TWU fellows have found their voices and learned the practical skills they needed to get those voices heard on a national and international level. The TWU Public Voices Thought Leadership Program is the ultimate example of how TWU’s commitment to civic engagement and its QEP “Learn By Doing” can help change the lives of individual women and better the world.

The Department of History and Government is currently seeking funding to help continue the program for another two years.

For more information on the national Op Ed project see: http://theopedproject.org/

The Texas Woman’s University Public Voices Thought Leadership Program Fellows for 2012-2013:

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