Gaining recognition as one of the top schools for health science studies, TWU has begun to embrace its strengths. Faculty, staff, and students have been making waves in research projects this year. Professor Dr. Alexis Ortiz and Assistant Professor Dr. Wayne Brewer, of the TWU Houston campus, are no exception.
This summer, Dr. Brewer and Dr. Ortiz were the recipients of a $149,774 research grant. Titled the Minority Health Research and Education grant, Dr. Brewer explained in an electronic interview that the two were awarded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board based on their project, “Selecting Under-Represented Cohorts and Creating Enhancement of Skills and Scholastic Achievement in Physical Therapy (SUCCESS-PT).”
Dr. Brewer explained what the focus of their project has been: “To recruit under-represented minorities to the Houston PT program, which are African-Americans and Hispanics, and provide an avenue and opportunity to maximize their ability to graduate from the program.” The project budded while Dr. Brewer was almost completed with the PhD program at the Houston campus and was working with Dr. Ortiz, who was already faculty at the time.
The project really kick-started once Dr. Brewer was added on as a faculty member: “Once I became faculty, we designed a recruitment and retention plan that met unique needs of our department, which was also in consultation with a then Director of the department and faculty members on the Houston campus.” With the focus being on TWU, Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Brewer have partnered with over eight public institutions in Texas that are considered minority serving by the very board that awarded them the grant, in order to recruit students into TWU’s PT programs. They were able to recruit 10 students from partner institutions.
Dr. Brewer states that the grant money will be used for recruitment possibilities by traveling to other institutions across the state, funding for student peer mentors, provide resources to students and provide their students with access to guest speakers and materials for workshops that relate to their field. He added: “We are in discussion with our colleagues at the Dallas campus to expand this program to the PT department there as well.”
Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Brewer have already began initiating measures to support minority groups at TWU Houston by having what Dr. Brewer calls a “3-day boot camp the summer before they start the program in the fall,” that includes tours, workshops, help with housing, introduction to materials and programs and meetings with upperclassmen.