Meet Daisy Cantu
Daisy Cantu, Class of 2018 and Frontiers student
Daisy J. Cantu came to the United States from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico when she was 15 years old. As a high school student she spoke little to no English. Daisy had to not only learn the usual subjects, but the English language on top of it all.
She had a simple vision: work very hard to learn the language and get into a good college with scholarships. She noticed early on that the sciences came easy to her.
Growing up in Mexico, she said she never had a stable home—she bounced from house to house in foster care between relatives. At age 15 she was adopted and given the chance at a stable home-life and an education in the United States.
Daisy qualified for the TWU Frontiers Foster Care Alumni Program. The program was designed to help students who have experienced foster care by giving the students an extra measure of support and care to see them through to graduation. Some of the support includes mentoring, guidance, counseling, a food pantry, social activities, workshops and a dedicated center for students in the program.
Daisy is grateful for the support of the Frontiers Program and the role it played in obtaining her dream of a college education. She said, “You’re in a close community with people in similar situations. You get to connect with everyone and realize that you’re not the only one. It’s a great support group that can really make a difference throughout your college career.”
Daisy is thankful for her mom, too. She realizes that most children are adopted at a much younger age, and not typically at 15 like she was.
Through all of the difficult experiences Daisy has had in her young life so far, she’s confident, optimistic and charming. She remained concentrated on her vision for herself to avoid the common missteps made by others who have had a similar journey. She knows her focus on her future was supported by many others. Her professors, she said in particular, played a large role in her success.
Daisy graduated this month with a bachelor’s of science in biology, with a research emphasis. She will put that degree to good use as she continues her studies at TWU for a masters in biology. She will continue working on a research project titled, "Sex Differences in Steroid-Sensitive Neural Projections to the Periaqueductal Gray: Identification of Novel Pain Pathways in Female Rats,” under the mentorship of Dr. Dayna Loyd Averitt. She plans to apply to medical school next.
Daisy might not consider herself "bold," but given her past, she makes for a bold present and a future that is even more bold.
If you want to support students like Daisy, consider a gift to the Frontiers Foster Care Alumni Program.
Story and photo by Adam Hengeveld
Meet Cheryl Holland Bridges '68
Member of the 1968 Golden Reunion Class and Distinguished Alumna, Cheryl Holland Bridges
As a Texas native and daughter to a TWU alumna Dorothy Anderson Holland, attending Texas Woman’s University was a perfect fit. As a student she enjoyed studying fashion and music.
Cheryl Holland Bridges was an active member of the campus community while a student. She was president of student activities at one point and organized large dances when the Texas A&M Corps came to town. She enjoyed singing with the Lasso Choraliers, and even traveled to Germany to entertain US troops stationed there one summer.
Her first jobs after college in fashion and merchandising in Dallas in the late-1960s and early 1970’s opened doors that this Texas girl had only dreamed of – and she was sure to step boldly through each one.
Never thinking she’d leave Texas, Cheryl was offered a job in New York City with the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields and others. That was just the start of a period of her career that took her to Atlanta, back to NYC, to Kansas City and back to Texas, with many international business trips peppered throughout more than 30 years working in fashion and retail. All of these experiences led her to a second career teaching retail merchandising at Texas A&M University where she earned a Distinguished Teaching Award.
Cheryl says all of the moves and travel helped her to become more open-minded about how people think and to gain a greater respect for others. She learned more about her country and about herself.
Her advice for anyone is to push your own boundaries of comfort, and wherever you go, learn as much as you can about other people.
Her bold career was recognized by her alma mater, which bestowed the Distinguished Alumna Award to Cheryl in 1987.
Cheryl says she has lived by the simple belief that if you treat people right, act ethically and have results in your work, you will be successful. That’s what she wants students to know, and what it means to be BOLD.
Story by Adam Hengeveld
Meet Miranda Moore
Senior Miranda Moore, Student Leader
Having been described as a “bundle of energy,” Miranda Moore exudes an air of excitement and anticipation. The Senior Kinesiology and Pre-Occupational Therapy student knew she was going to make her mark before she even arrived at Texas Woman’s University.
As a prospective student she saw the uniqueness of the TWU atmosphere: “Everyone was so genuine, and I like the way it seemed TWU focused both on academics and building relationships. I feel like those are core values of TWU,” Moore said.
TWU took notice of Miranda as well—she received a scholarship as an “Outstanding New Student,” and was accepted into the Honors Program.
Miranda didn’t stop there, though. She wanted to expand her knowledge and continue to challenge herself to do something new. That’s when she discovered the Leadership Institute. For more than 10 years, the Leadership Institute at TWU strives to help students feel confident in their abilities to lead teams, manage projects and sharpen public speaking skills. The program, led by Maj. Gen. Mary Saunders (Ret.) and Judy Elias, mentors TWU students throughout their time in the Institute. For students to qualify they must complete a thorough application and interview process.
About her experience, she said, “The Leadership Institute taught me that there are others who believe in me. When someone else believes in you, you can’t help but believe in yourself. Doubts sometimes came into my mind. I learned not to doubt myself.”
Miranda Moore believes TWU has helped her to boldly go into her future as a confident and poised woman, prepared to serve and lead in her personal and professional life—just like the thousands of TWU alumni before her.
Story by Adam Hengeveld
Meet Jonathan Arias
Physical Therapy Student, Jonathan Arias
As a young man from the Rio Grande Valley, Jonathan Arias dreams of helping the people in his community.
His parents dreamed he would be a doctor, but he learned he could help patients more by filling a prescription through physical therapy rather than just doing the prescribing.
“When I found out about the profession of physical therapy, I just fell in love with it because it’s something that you are there with them and you can see an improvement. They’re just grateful – people who haven’t walked in years and to just take one step and you’re part of it. That’s what called me.”
Jonathan applied to several PT schools in Texas. Knowing TWU was among the best in the state, it was his first choice. He was understandably filled with emotion, excitement and gratitude when he learned of his acceptance. Now halfway through the three-year program, he couldn’t be any more sure of his career path. He is also making the most of his time as a student at TWU.
As a native Spanish speaker who takes pride in his heritage and culture, Jonathan wants to help his student colleagues better serve their future Latino patients. When Jonathan was selected as the Student Government Association representative he started by helping plan Spanish Heritage Month.
He didn’t stop there. Jonathan then created a student organization on the Dallas Campus called Spanish for Health Care which provides free Spanish-language tutoring to any student at TWU. Many of his classmates experience the need after their clinical rotations.
During one of Jonathan’s clinical rotations he decided to return to his home in Brownsville. Aware of the general economic differences between Dallas and the Valley, he wanted to experience PT in a clinical environment that wasn’t outfitted with all the technology bells and whistles like the mega-hospitals of DFW. “It was an eye-opening situation. We only had one pair of crutches for the entire hospital and outpatient clinic to teach people how to use crutches,” Jonathan said.
His plan is to return to the Valley after graduation and give back to the people he grew up with. He wants to make a difference by providing quality services for his patients.
That bold heart for service and excellence is what drew Jonathan Arias to TWU.
Story by Adam Hengeveld
Meet Megan Alvina
Senior Family Studies Student and Parent, Megan Alvina
Megan Alvina, a Senior Family Studies student, shows her love for Texas Woman’s University in a very personal way. She named her new child, born November 2017, Elijah Lowry Alvaro Alvina.
Like the students who came before her that lived along dormitory row, her family’s apartment at Lowry Woods has truly become a home for her husband Gabriel and daughter Sophia, and now little Elijah Lowry, too. They wanted to pay homage to TWU for welcoming them into the TWU family.
The path to Megan’s college degree has been an uphill climb to her impending graduation in May. Beginning her college career back in 2005 led to a withdrawal after the birth of Sophia, but she eventually earned an Associate Degree from Northlake Community College before ultimately taking a bold step toward her future by coming to TWU in 2015.
TWU appealed to Megan because of its size, affordability and the fact that there was family housing available as well as after school daycare on university grounds at the Denton campus. Between classes, studying and a busy family life Megan discovered a passion, the student organization known as SPARK (Student Pioneers Also Raising Kids). Megan said: “SPARK makes me feel included, it helps me relate to all the other students here.”
In addition to her family time, coursework and SPARK Megan squeezes in a 20 hour work week as a Student Assistant in residential housing. Life isn’t without its challenges. Megan said that finances have been an obstacle and she couldn’t be successful without the help of financial assistance. Juggling has become a specialty, “Especially with the upper level classes which are offered on a special schedule so you have to be sure to plan ahead,” Megan elaborated. “I study after my daughter goes to bed; it’s all about balance.”
No matter the schedule, Megan is excited to be at TWU and hopes to continue in grad school toward her goal of working with students in higher education. Megan smiled as she said, “TWU feels like home; you’re away and then you come back and it’s like coming home.”
TWU helps students juggling children and family and school look forward to bold futures.
Story by Rhonda Ross, MA ’11 and Adam Hengeveld
Meet Schyler Jones
Senior Elementary Educ. Student and Gymnastics Champion, Schyler Jones
“It’s all about time management,” Schyler Jones said when talking about the balancing act that is her life as a scholar athlete at Texas Woman’s University. As a Senior majoring in Elementary Education, Schyler maintains her schoolwork at an honors level, is a member of multiple student organizations and completes four hours of training five days a week as a member of the TWU award-winning gymnastics team, to name just a few of her many commitments.
Schyler is from Denton and at the age of three she started going to gymnastics class at a local club, taking after her older sister Spencer who was already training there. “We grew up watching gymnastics,” Schyler commented. Her years in high school brought her multiple awards, 2010 Spirit Award, 2011 Hardest Worker Award, and 2012 and 2013 Leadership Awards. Schyler was able to share TWU gymnastics with her sister for one year while she was a first-year student athlete and Spencer was a senior.
When asked what drives her, Schyler said she feels she isn’t necessarily the most naturally gifted gymnast, but that just drives her to work harder. That commitment to work hard has served her well as Schyler began her career at Texas Woman’s University.
In 2015 Schyler competed in every meet as an all-around gymnast, repeating this feat in 2016. When asked about her routine for staying healthy and injury free she credits eating well, but as for the lack of injuries, “I guess it’s just God looking out for me.”
While she wasn’t a fan of the vault when she was younger, the vault has since become her favorite event. “Sticking a vault landing is the best feeling ever.” Not only was Schyler racking up high scores on the vault with a 9.925 career high, she was reaching for the perfect 10 in all her events with a career high on the bars of 9.800, and her career high on the beam and floor even higher at 9.900.
For the last three years she has earned great scores in the classroom too and was named a Midwest Independent Conference Scholar Athlete each year. Schyler mentioned that Coach Lisa Bowerman has high expectations for the athletes academically: “It’s always student first, then athlete.”
Throughout her time at TWU Schyler has loved the gymnastics camps and clinics that she has been part of that offered her an opportunity to work with children. Through her love for kids in general and how much she enjoys seeing them learn and grow, she relishes in passing on her passion for the sport to the next generation.
As the next gymnastics season gets underway in January Schyler will boldly complete her senior year in her customary style—driven and committed.
Like a true TWU Pioneer.
Story by Rhonda Ross, MA ’11
Meet Nikki Perez
Senior Social Work major and U.S. Veteran, Nikki Perez
Story by Rhonda Ross MA ’11