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TWU Graduate Student Kaye Rubio to be honored Dr. Chris Ray, dean, College of Health Sciences (OT); Kaye C. Rubio, TWU Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship Recipient for the College of Health Sciences

 Four Scholarship Awards to be presented at 16th Annual TWU Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon Honoring

Norman Bagwell for his leadership in the community and his commitment to education


Driven by a thirst for knowledge, desire to learn, a need to be challenged, and faith in God, Kaye Rubio, an immigrant from Manila, Philippines, is pursuing her doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Texas Woman’s University, with a 3.9 GPA and plans to graduate in 2019. She is the first in her family to leave her home country, live on her own, and pursue an independent life in a foreign land. Rubio is receiving one of four prestigious scholarships given by Texas Woman’s University at the 16th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, presented by Bank of Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and the Texas Woman’s University Foundation, February 21, at noon, at The Belo Mansion and Pavilion. 

She is currently working on her dissertation, focused on the role of occupational therapy in breast cancer-related lymphedema. After completing her PhD, she would like to pursue opportunities in research and academia while continuing to work in the clinical field. She would also like to use her degree to increase awareness of lymphedema and establish occupational therapy as a vital service in the rehabilitation of cancer survivors and those living with lymphedema. Her long-term goal is to return to her home country to give back to the University of the Philippines, where she began her journey as a therapist and lifelong learner. Presently, she is an occupational therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital and Acute Care Unit at the Palms of Pasadena Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“As a senior in high school, I prayed fervently for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do in life, and I was accepted into the OT program at University of the Philippines in 1999,” said Kaye Rubio. “I had no idea what occupational therapy was, but today I know I am an occupational therapist at heart.  Additionally, I am a certified lymphedema therapist. My father died of cancer in 2005, and my mother, siblings, and I cared for him at home during the last four months of his life. This experience and knowing that I might be at risk motivated me to focus my research in cancer.”

Rubio received her bachelor’s in OT in 2003 from the University of the Philippines, the country’s premier institution of higher learning and the first university in the country and in Asia to offer a bachelor’s degree in OT. It was the only university her family could afford because tuition is subsidized by the government to enable low income students the opportunity to go to college. The program is recognized by the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, which allowed her to obtain a license to practice in the U.S. and pursue her education in this field. She prayed for an opportunity to leave the Philippines and was offered a position in Atlanta in 2005 at a pediatric home health company. Preferring to work with adults, she moved to Florida a year later to work in a skilled nursing facility. 

She received a master’s in health science with a major in OT in 2011 from the University of Florida while working full time as a therapist. She worked in a clinical setting for another two years and yearned for more education, resulting in her certification as a lymphedema therapist from the Norton School of Lymphatic Studies in 2012. She attempted an administrative role but found she was no longer challenged.  A friend and colleague in the PhD program at TWU motivated her to look into the program, and she began her PhD studies in 2014.

“My journey as an immigrant from a poor country taught me that opportunities, success, and a comfortable life are not privileges,” added Rubio.  “They are given to those who are willing to work hard and earn it.”

Rubio grew up in a loving home, but the family struggled financially.

“In our culture, the parents finance their children’s college education,” added Rubio. “After the eldest graduates and finds a job, he or she is expected to help raise the younger siblings.  I am the eldest and felt pressure to provide for my family at an early age.  Our culture also valued the importance of a college degree. My degree enabled me to financially support my younger brother and sister until they finished college, and the three of us support our mother.”

While Rubio felt close to her immediate family, she never felt a sense of belonging from the other members of the Filipino community, including extended family members.  Taught by her parents to be emotionally and mentally strong and trust God no matter what happens, Rubio, as young as 10 years old, yearned to be on her own in a place where she could express herself and not be harshly criticized. She was told she did not have intellectual skills or talent. She was 24 when she accepted a position in Atlanta and was finally able to leave the country.

Because of the criticism she received from the Filipino community and extended family members, she suffered from imposter syndrome and doubted her abilities during the first two years in the PhD program. She was able to overcome these feelings as she moved forward.

“The PhD program at TWU prepares its students to become excellent researchers deeply rooted in the value of occupational therapy,” added Rubio. “I chose to attend TWU because of its mentoring program. Each doctoral student, paired with a research mentor, receives one-on-one guidance and opportunities for networking. This journey has been a series of opportunities to learn and grow. Receiving the Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship was a surprise and affirmation that I have what it takes to complete the program.”

Rubio and her husband, also an occupational therapist, met at the University of the Philippines and reside in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a member of numerous professional organizations, an active volunteer in the occupational therapy field, and the recipient of several previous scholarships from TWU.

In addition to Rubio, graduate students from the remaining three TWU colleges will be honored at the luncheon as recipients of Virginia Chandler Dykes scholarship funds:Dawn Murphy, College of Nursing, sponsored by Luther King Capital Management; Lorraine Cadwallader, College of Professional Education (COPE); and Geethanjali Ravindranathan, College of Arts and Sciences.

In the past 15 years, more than $700,000 has been raised for scholarships from the proceeds of this luncheon.  TWU’s 16th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, on February 21 at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion, will honor Norman P. Bagwell, CEO of Bank of Texas and Executive Vice President of BOK Financial, as the 2018 recipient of the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award.  Tickets are $175 for silver patron; $250 for gold patron.  For more information, call 940-898-3872, visit, or email

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