With a strong guiding mission, students and faculty in TWU’s College of Health Sciences offer hands-on health care and wellness education to community members across Texas.

Ask Steve Latham

Ask Steve Latham what he thinks of Texas Woman’s University, and he’ll tell you the university saved his life.

A health crisis in 2016 had left the former Southern Gospel quartet singer with greatly compromised mobility — until he found firmer footing again through community programs offered by TWU’s College of Health Sciences.

“TWU has been a salvation for me,” proclaims Latham, 74, who attends the LEAD-UP and AWAVE programs on the Denton campus. “In the water, I can stand, walk and run. I’m a whole new person.

“These are fantastic programs and resources for the community,” he adds. “I hope and pray TWU continues to be an integral part of my community long into the future.”


As part of their curriculum, students in the School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology complete clinical rotations with LEAD-UP (Lifestyle Education Access for Diabetics: a University Program) and AWAVE (Adaptive Water Activity Venues for Everybody). Through LEAD-UP, students invite community members to the Denton campus, where they teach individuals how to make wellness-oriented lifestyle changes. Similarly, AWAVE helps people regain their muscle mobility and movement.

George King, the school’s director, is excited not only about the outcomes the programs provide people like Latham, but also the school’s new research-focused labs and faculty hires.

King believes TWU’s strategic plan enhances the school’s mission. “The efforts underway are going to provide a lot of future opportunities,” he says.

Health promotion and kinesiology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are the three schools along with the departments of communication sciences and oral health and nutrition and food sciences that make up the College of Health Sciences. The college encompasses an array of allied health fields while also exemplifying TWU’s values, especially community service, through its clinical and community outreach.


Clinical experiences are essential elements of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Experiential learning opportunities, “whether in the lab or in the community, give TWU students experiences that employers want to see,” says department chair Shane Broughton. The department’s community programs range from teaching children about whole foods and growing plants to providing health assessments to firefighters.

This year 450 students in Head Start programs received pots, soil and seeds to grow tomatoes, beans, beets and carrots. “The children were so excited,” says Leyla Soleymani, a director at the Mid-Cities Child Development Center in Denton. “Their parents came. They had so much fun, and the children brought me pictures of their plants at home. I told them, ‘When your radishes grow, bring some to share.’ ”

The Denton Fire Department has also benefited from TWU’s holistic wellness-testing program. Students conducted hearing screenings as well as strength, fitness, endurance and body composition tests on 150 firefighters this year alone. According to battalion chief David Boots, “This provides a great benefit to our firefighters. They can see how they’re doing physically. It’s absolutely huge for them, and it makes a big difference.”

"This year 450 students in Head Start programs received pots, soil and seeds to grow tomatoes, beans, beets and carrots. The children were so excited."
Leyla Soleymani, a director at the midcities child development center in Denton


George King isn’t the only College of Health Sciences school director for whom TWU’s strategic plan offers a guidepost.

Cynthia Evetts, the director of the School of Occupational Therapy, keeps TWU’s core values tacked to the wall of her office as inspiration. Caring, Collaboration, Creativity, Diversity, Excellence, Opportunity and Wellbeing “guide our actions on a daily basis,” she says.

Living out that credo, the School of Occupational Therapy participates in more than 10 community clinics and programs serving neurodiverse populations in Dallas, Denton and Houston. Evetts and her faculty believe that altruism is integral to wellbeing.

“Our students realize the benefits of volunteering and being involved in the community, and they see the difference they can make in a person’s life. That’s just a small glimpse of what they will experience as professionals in the field,” she says.

Our students realize the benefits of volunteering and being involved in the community, and they see the difference they can make in a person’s life.


Juliette Greer, 66, is one occupational therapy client who has benefited from that altruistic mission. Greer, who has arthritis and uses a walker, has partnered with TWU students who serve at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, a West Dallas neighborhood center that offers multiple resources, from food and wellness to health care tests and job training. Greer worked this year with Jennifer Mosley-Garcia ’23, who provided occupational therapy services to seniors including adaptive strategies for activities of daily living, fall-prevention methods and home-safety practices as part of the Cultivating Healthy Habits program at Brother Bill’s.

“The students are patient and professional,” says Greer. “They’re diligent about reviewing the exercises with us until we understand them. I’m so thankful TWU students help us live safely in our homes, allowing us to remain independent.”

I’m so thankful TWU students help us live safely in our homes, allowing us to remain independent.


In the School of Physical Therapy, students and faculty are improving local accessibility to public resources. Faculty member Luciano Garcia and his students have worked with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s Adaptive Sports and Recreation section (HARC) to increase resource awareness. HARC offers youth and adult adaptive and wheelchair sports, an accessible fitness center and adolescent bariatric surgery support, among other resources.

“HARC is the only resource of its kind in the region. TWU students are helping spread the word, and they’re providing on-site instruction to community members,” says Garcia.


The Department of Communication Sciences and Oral Health is likewise dedicated to providing “life-changing care to community members,” as department chair Cynthia Gill-Sams describes.

The department’s speech-language pathology students and faculty evaluate and treat a range of communication and swallowing disorders in adults and children in two departmental clinics: the Speech- Language-Hearing Clinic on the Denton campus and the Stroke Center on the Dallas campus.

Since beginning therapy at TWU’s Stroke Center early this year, JD Cantu has made remarkable progress. Cantu, 33, has apraxia and aphasia — speech and language disorders impairing his ability to communicate — caused by a 2019 stroke. Since beginning three-hour sessions with TWU speech-language pathology students three times a week, the former sports manager can now string sentences together. He realizes how lucky he is to have received medical treatment. “TWU offers specialized, comprehensive health care. I am so grateful to have found this university clinic serving my community,” he says.

Cantu’s experience encapsulates what the college’s clinics and community programs can achieve. “We are always working to find solutions to the communication problems our clients are faced with day in and day out,” says Gill-Sams.


“Our community clinics have a major local impact,” according to Charlene Dickinson, head of the dental hygiene program, housed in the Department of Communication Sciences and Oral Health on the Denton campus.

“We have a dental hygiene program with a strong emphasis on interprofessional education and community impact,” she says. “We are graduating professional dental hygienists who are trained alongside fellow allied health professionals and who are instrumental in maintaining the highest standards of oral health care practice.”

Dental hygiene students serve patients of all ages who otherwise would not receive dental care. They complete clinical rotations in Dallas and Denton at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Children’s Medical Center and Denton State Supported Living Center, a residential home for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

At Oak Point Elementary, as many as 50 children, some of whom have experienced homelessness, attend TWU’s Denton campus clinic during special Saturday events. “Kids who don’t have insurance get the dental attention and education they need,” says the Head Start school’s family facilitator Yamile Quintero. “It’s an amazing resource with fantastic students and faculty.”

Dental hygiene patients aren’t just served by off-campus clinics. The department’s Denton campus clinic will expand to over 21,000 square feet this fall, and its grand opening will coincide with the program’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Dental hygiene students are motivated by their core values, as are all students in the College of Health Sciences. “They go into their fields prepared and passionate,” according to Dickinson, who also commends the incredible dedication of the faculty. In her words, “We all do it because we love caring for our students and our communities.”


"Kids who don’t have insurance get the dental attention and education they need. It’s an amazing resource with fantastic students and faculty"
Yamile Quintero, head start school's family facilitator