The Texas Wesleyan University slogan of “Smaller. Smarter” appealed to Brooklynn Rowe. But when the National Honor Society student from Burleson was searching for a college, she toured several in the area.
“It was not just ‘smaller and smarter.’ It was the friendliness of the people, and I knew this was the place for me,” she said.
Rowe was able to make a splash quickly, even in the midst of COVID.
A member of the swim team at her high school, she was excited that Texas Wesleyan had a pool. But there was no swim team. So she began — despite the pandemic — to rally interest in forming a swim club.
She started by reaching out to everyone tagged by Texas Wesleyan, anyone who had ever followed a Wesleyan page.
“I started networking, asking, ‘Do you want to be in a swim club?’ or ‘Do you want to be my adviser for the swim club?’” she said.
When she gathered enough interest, she created a constitution, developed plans for swim workouts and made a list of things needed for the pool. The club was approved in July 2020.
“I was the first freshman on campus ever to have created a swim club — virtually,” she said.
The swim club experience taught Rowe a lot about leadership, she said.
“I learned how to network, advertise, market and interact with others,” she said. “Invaluable skills.”
But to have a swim club, a key component is obviously swimming. So, in the middle of the pandemic, some rules were established.
Rowe argued that the swim lanes were about feet apart, so it met pandemic requirements.
“I know, a swim club in the middle of the pandemic seemed kind of crazy, but we wanted to make it work, and we did,” she said.
But not all went as planned.
She started the club as a way for trained swimmers to advance their skills but quickly saw it branch into teaching students how to swim. A lot of people who had interest in the club, it turned out, didn’t really know how to swim.
“I had no idea that many of my own peers didn’t know how to float or didn’t have the ability to swim,” she said. “It kind of shocked me, really, but that’s what we began doing when we realized it was what was needed.”
That response is the kind of leadership that Rowe said she works at: listening to people and responding to their needs.
“That’s one thing I’ve learned,” she said. “You may think you need to do one thing, but if you listen, it might be something else that you really need to do. You have to react to that.”
Pamela Rast, kinesiology department chair at Texas Wesleyan, said Rowe’s launching the swim club was a good representation of who she is.
“She takes a leadership position in and out of the classroom,“ she said. “And she’s not just working for herself, she brings others along with her. “
Leadership is important to Rowe, now a 21-year-old senior at the school and president of the Student Government Association at Texas Wesleyan.
She was initially voted onto the association as the national and social sciences representative. She was promoted to executive secretary and then became vice president her junior year.
Coming out of the pandemic, when many students and student organizations were away from the campus or couldn’t hold events, a big focus for the student government was to build relationships with other organizations, departments and the student body overall.
During Rowe’s sophomore and junior years, the student government focused on engaging with students who may not have been on campus much during the pandemic years.
“We were opening up the doors for student engagement, and we wanted everybody to feel like they had an event that was tethered toward them,” she said.
There are now a lot of students. Texas Wesleyan enrolled 740 new undergraduate students this fall — its third consecutive year of growth.
Rowe sees more growth down the road, particularly as the football stadium nears completion. Working on homecoming festivities each year has been a learning experience for Rowe.
“Homecoming is so big and you can’t do it yourself, which is my natural tendency,” she said. “So, I’ve learned to delegate and to let others take charge. That has been a great lesson. You can’t do it all yourself.”
Michael Gatton, director for career services at Texas Wesleyan, said Rowe’s leadership style gets things done.
“Once vision and goals have been made, she sets her focus on making progress, clearing the path of obstacles and ultimately achieving the organization’s goals,“ he said.
Rowe is a pre-med student majoring in exercise science and minoring in biology and psychology. She plans to go into a nursing program and eventually get her doctorate as a nurse practitioner.
Research is also part of her work. Through her biology classes at Texas Wesleyan, she worked on identifying natural antibiotics in soil and determining during which stage microbes were introduced to the fermentation process at nearby TX Whiskey, whose distillery is at 2601 Whiskey Ranch Road.
“I was able to isolate the DNA and determine which microbes were at each stage of fermentation, since they have an open vat system,” she said.
Rowe presented both projects during Texas Wesleyan’s University College Day, where students share their research and projects with peers, faculty, staff, alumni and the community.
While Rowe has plenty going on, she also has time for other young adult pursuits, such as watching horror movies and reading comics, particularly DC comics.
Her favorite horror films are “classics like ‘The Conjuring’ and, more recently, ‘Heredity,’” she said.
In addition to working at Texas Wesleyan as a lifeguard, Rowe also is a scribe at a Baylor Scott & White Emergency Hospital – Burleson and at the emergency room at Texas Health Huguley. She also shadows an anesthesiologist and an OB/GYN at Huguley.
“I learned early on that my greatest passion was to know how the human body works,” she said.
Her eventual goal is to become a nurse practitioner and open a clinic focused on women’s health, with a specialty in hormone therapy.
“I’ve seen a lot of advances that have been made with hormone therapy and I find it extremely interesting,” she said. “Right now, that is my goal to strive toward.”
Birthplace: Born in Arlington but grew up in Burleson.
Family: Father, Brooks; mother, Carissa; and brother, Max.
Volunteer service: Rowe has accumulated over 500 service hours with Texas Wesleyan and in the community, in addition to her healthcare pursuits. She is the president of the Texas Wesleyan Swim Club and the student government at the school.
Advice for being a leader: “My greatest advice for anybody who is striving to become a leader is to listen to those whom you are trying to lead.”
Best advice you’ve received: “My dad was a huge advocate for leadership. And I would say that he definitely single-handedly had the most influence on me becoming a leader at Texas Wesleyan. But my whole family is very supportive. Everything we do is, first and foremost, you put yourself forward is kind of what we were taught to do – that it’s not selfish to express your needs. It’s actually important. It’s a good communication skill. And everything you do personally for yourself should also be for the whole family.”
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.