The Lasso takes a look at the distinguished achievements of three remarkable alumni from the TWU Hall of Fame
Matt Olson, Copy Editor
For the duration of February, TWU is celebrating Black History Month with the help of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach. The “Glory” event will take place this Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will entail a field trip to the African American Museum of Dallas with 12 students. Next Thursday evening, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” offers Black History trivia in the Guinn Commons. The following week, “Feeling Good” serves as a health fair; “U.N.I.T.Y.” provides a soul food dinner; and “Respect” involves students’ involvement and exchange of ideas on various subjects related to race. TWU’s Black History Month celebration ends with “Candles in the Sun,” a discussion-based event in the Cultural Café.
Several black TWU alumni have been inducted in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, including Ann Williams in 2002, Major General Mary Saunders in 2012 and Lillie M. Biggins in 2014. These women have graduated from the university and gone on to contribute to society in numerous notable ways.
According to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame website, Williams was distinguished as the first black recipient of a MA in Dance in the state of Texas, at TWU itself. Williams additionally established the Dallas Black Dance Theatre in 1976, where she served as the artistic director for almost four decades. The company has garnered attention for its dance routines at the 1996 Olympics, at the Kennedy Center, on Broadway and in Africa, Europe and South America. The Dallas Black Dance Theatre strives to improve the community by getting involved with programs geared towards youth education.
Saunders spent 34 years in the Air Force, where she garnered recognition for being the “highest-ranking African American woman” as the Director of Transportation for the USAF according to the TWHoF website. Saunders graduated from TWU with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and she later enrolled in Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base. Saunders quickly ascended the ranks, and over the course of her career, she earned accolades and awards and “was known and respected for exemplifying the Air Force’s core values: integrity first; service before self; and excellence in everything,” according to the TWHoF website. After retiring from the military, Saunders joined TWU’s Leadership Institute, where she became the executive director. She was recognized as both a distinguished alumna and a TWU Woman of Distinction.
According to the TWHoF website, Biggins graduated from TWU with a Master of Science degree. She went on to work in the healthcare field for a number of years in the DFW area. Biggins became the vice president of operations for Texas Health Fort Worth, and she eventually became the president of the Christian nonprofit Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. Additionally, Biggins serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the DFW airport.