Five Alumnae Making Waves in Their Industries

By Melissa Graham  |  March 9, 2021

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the accomplishments of five female Comets who have turned their UT Dallas educations into successful careers.

Rachel Kowert BA’05

As the research director for Take This, a nonprofit that provides mental health resources for gaming communities, Rachel Kowert researches the potential dangers and contributions that online video games bring to people. She’s also a science content creator at Psychgeist, where she posts weekly videos about the science of games.





LaToya Watkins BA’06, MA’11, PhD’15


A successful author, Dr. LaToya Watkins recently received a two-book deal from New York publisher Viking-Penguin. The first book, a novel titled “Perish,” will be published by Tiny Reparations, an imprint at Plume/Dutton, subsidiary of Viking-Penguin, and will be on the market in the fall of 2022; “Holler, Child” will follow in 2023. Her work has been published in A Public Space, The Sun, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Kenyon Review, The Pushcart and Prize Anthology.



Michelle Gruben BA’06


A self-proclaimed former “spooky” kid, Michelle Gruben  is the founder of Grove and Grotto, a family-owned Pagan store that provides handmade jewelry, candles, incense, oils and altar tools. Gruben founded the shop in 2014 to combine her two passions — crafting and magic. When she’s not managing the shop, you can likely find her painting, drawing, costuming, beading, embroidering or woodturning.




Veena Somareddy MA’14


Veena Somareddy is the co-founder of Neuro Rehab VR, a health care startup aimed at building virtual/augmented reality training exercises for patients with neurological disorders. In 2017, Somareddy won UT Dallas’ Big Idea Competition with her pitch for Neuro Rehab VR. Last year, Somareddy was featured in Forbes, which claimed she was “changing the therapy industry.”

“It’s such a good time to be a female entrepreneur and a technologist,” Somareddy told Forbes. “There are so many opportunities out there because of the rapid growth of innovation.”


Nataly Keomoungkhoun BA’16


Nataly Keomoungkhoun BA’16 is a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, where she is the lead writer for Curious Texas. With Curious Texas, Keomoungkhoun investigates popular questions about Texas posed by readers, such as “What are the Dallas Library’s 20 most checked-out books?” and maybe more importantly, “When will the toll roads be paid off?” Nataly also reports breaking news stories for DMN.


Relevance: Alumni, Community