Houston ceremony students.jpg

Success of ceremonies credited to teamwork

A lot of work went on behind the scenes to make Texas Woman’s commencement ceremonies at Texas Motor Speedway and Heavy Construction Systems Specialists (HCSS) in Sugar Land a special celebration for graduates and their families.

That was the request from students following the virtual commencement ceremonies in May — they wanted an in-person commencement that could involve their families in some way. Teams began meeting in September to discuss drive-thru options for Denton/Dallas and Houston in order to maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

David Sweeten (Student Union & conference services) suggested Texas Motor Speedway based on graduation ceremonies for Denton-area high schools that were held there in May. Carlos Da Silva (IT Solutions, Houston) and Jennifer Martin (executive vice provost) discussed the possibility of using HCSS, a company owned by the late TWU alumna and faculty member Sophie Rydin and her husband, Mike.

A decision was made in October to move forward with ceremonies at both locations, and commencement committees started working on the details.

The number of volunteers at both sites was kept to a minimum in order to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and maximize social distancing.

Those who supported the events at TMS and HCSS included:

  • Jennifer Martin (executive vice provost)
  • Carolyn Kapinus (provost)
  • David Sweeten (Student Union & conference services)
  • Beth Lewis (ID Systems)
  • Deanna Titzler (marketing & communication)
  • Drew Townsend (risk management)
  • Jenna Lee (registrar’s office)
  • Artia Bowden (registrar’s office)
  • Joshua Adams (Pioneer Center for Student Excellence)
  • Jess Tate (IT Solutions)
  • Dennis Hoebee (facilities management)
  • Nora Sierra (institutional research & improvement)
  • Matt Moustakas (risk management)
  • Jennifer Rodriguez (risk management)
  • Annie Phillips (international affairs)
  • Theresa Lindsay (Pioneer Center for Student Excellence)
  • Shaunon McClellan (Pioneer Center for Student Excellence)
  • Nikkole Stewart (Pioneer Center for Student Excellence)
  • Kimberly Taylor (Pioneer Center for Student Excellence)
  • Pamela Temple (facilities management)
  • Lauren Zeringue (registrar’s office)
  • Matt Flores (marketing & communication)
  • Michael Modecki (marketing & communication)
  • Daniel Cantu (marketing & communication)
  • Kayla Holloway (alumni engagement)
  • Katherine Quinones (alumni engagement)
  • Kimberly Russell (university advancement)
  • Lauren Hendershot (university advancement)
  • Renee Thompson (marketing & communication)
  • Brenda Maddox (registrar’s office)
  • Kendal Dickson (registrar’s office)
  • The Graduate School staff
  • Procurement Services
  • Kimber Summers (general counsel)
  • Sam Garrison (DPS)
  • D.L. Law (DPS)
  • Terry Collins (DPS)
  • Kim Zachary (DPS)
  • Sandra Marquez (DPS)
  • Gloria Holcomb (DPS, Dallas)
  • Justin Dimas (DPS)
  • Austin Hogue (DPS)
  • Jeremiah Marrujo (DPS)
  • Niateka James (DPS, Dallas)
  • John Gearen (DPS, Dallas)
  • Naeem Ali (DPS, Dallas)
  • Chris Ray (College of Health Sciences)
  • Lisa Huffman (College of Professional Education)
  • Rosalie Mainous (College of Nursing)
  • Chancellor Carine Feyten
  • Abigail Tilton (College of Arts & Sciences)
  • Roland Love (DPS, Houston)
  • Ann St. Germain (nursing, Houston)
  • Carolyn Da Silva (physical therapy, Houston)
  • Francis Baxter (occupational therapy, Houston)
  • Ainslie Nibert (nursing, Houston)
  • Vy Wyatt (nursing, Houston)
  • Rochelle Schultz (nursing, Houston)
  • Dewaynna Horn (business, Houston)
  • Sandra Compton-Winbush (central services, Houston)
  • Melissa Rodriguez (admissions)
  • Srinivas Nadella (IT Solutions, Houston)
  • Deborah Unruh (student life, Houston)
  • Jinlan Du (IT Solutions, Houston)

Apologies to anyone omitted.


Student help in Houston:

  • Abigail Wilson (SOTA)
  • Katelyn Holzhaus (occupational therapy)
  • Krista Killam (occupational therapy)
  • Theresa Vu (occupational therapy)
  • Brittany Widacki (occupational therapy)
  • Ashlyn Syzdek (occupational therapy)
  • Mackenzie Wuneberger (Conway) (occupational therapy)
  • Morgan Baker (occupational therapy)
  • Urmila Rahman (occupational therapy)
  • Stuti Sharma (MBA)


Special thanks to HCSS:

  • Mike Rydin
  • Kevin Murphree
  • Femi Ariyo
  • Ruth Getachew

























Commencement Committee members make their first site visit to the Texas Motor
Speedway in September. From left: David Sweeten, Beth Lewis, Jenna Lee,
Jennifer Martin, Artia Bowden, and Deanna Titzler.