Researchers at University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Social Work, in collaboration with the Department of Kinesiology, are conducting a study to learn more about how virtual reality (VR) adventure exergaming can help improve the mental and physical health in Veterans.  VR-based exergaming is associated with improved cognition; endorphin production and release; improved mood, increased self-confidence, mindfulness, feelings of connectedness, and well-being.


You may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are a U.S. military veteran
  • Are 18-65 years of age
  • Are not color blind
  • Have no physical conditions that would prevent safe participation
  • Are able to come to UTA for study visits

If you are interested in participation, please click the link below to complete the study consent and screener questions:




Donna Schuman

Dr. Donna Schuman

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work


Dr. Schuman is a military spouse and mother to a military member. She holds licensure in clinical social work and professional counseling and holds certifications in addiction counseling, biofeedback, and neurofeedback. She has almost two decades of clinical behavioral health experience, and has previously worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army. Her research is focused on studying the biopsychosocial impact of trauma. She is dedicated to improving trauma treatment outcomes for service members, veterans, and first responders through psychophysiological interventions.

Dr. Xiangli Gu

Dr. Xiangli Gu

Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology


Areas of Interest

  • Racial/Ethnic Disparities in physical activity and mental/cognitive health
  • Social determinants of health and physical activity across the life span
  • Physical activity intervention and obesity prevention in various settings
  • Evidence-based interventions for school readiness and cognitive outcomes
  • Implementation of modern technology (e.g., Mobile-App, VR system) in interventions to promote physical activity and health
  • Assessment and evaluation of physical activity and motor performance

Kimberly Vanhoose

Kimberly Vanhoose, MS

Third-year Doctoral Student

Kim is a native Texan, beginning her Ph.D. program in Kinesiology at UTA in 2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, where she has also taught for over ten years as adjunct faculty in the Kinesiology department. She completed her Master’s degree in Exercise Science at UTA. She has been active for several years in providing community-based physical activity intervention for diabetes prevention and Full Plate Living programs. Her research interests focus on the benefits of physical activity for age- and disease-related motor-cognitive decline, and other types of cognitive dysfunction, as well as rehabilitative and corrective exercise.

Sarina Bao

Sarina Bao, MS

Sarina Bao is originally from Inner Mongolia, China. She is a first year doctoral student in the Motor and Rehabilitation Science track, and is looking to pursue a future career as a scholar and researcher. Her main areas of interest combine the worlds of physical activity and social work, with emphasis on older populations. In her free time, she loves badminton, volleyball, cooking, reading, and watching TV.

Mira Ghraizi

Mira Ghraizi, BS

Mira is originally from Lebanon but has spent most of her life here in Texas. She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology on the Clinical Health Professions track at UTA in 2021 and is a first-year Master’s student in Exercise Science Motor Rehabilitation. Alongside college, she is currently a Newborn Hearing Screener using automated auditory brainstem response systems to detect early hearing loss in newborns. Her current interests revolve around the understanding, application, and promotion of interventions for disease and cognitive dysfunction in young children and adolescents, which she can then enforce in her future career as a pediatrician.

Christine Highfill

Christine Highfill

Christine Highfill retired as a military spouse in 2014. She has since earned her Master degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington (2019) and a Master of Arts in Human Services, Counseling, Military Resilience from Liberty University (2016). She is currently a PhD student at UTA. She studies complementary therapies for Veterans, like Wind Therapy and Equine Therapy, and also researches Military-Connected Domestic Abuse.

LaTisha Thomas

LaTisha Thomas, LCSW

LaTisha Thomas is an experienced clinical social worker with over 13 years of experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She holds a licensure in clinical social work and is a trauma specialist with a certification in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She is the owner and lead clinician of Tomorrow and Beyond, PLLC, a psychotherapy clinical practice providing mental health services to individuals and couples along their healing journey. She is currently a PhD student at UTA. She studies psychotherapeutic interventions for the elder and Veteran population.

Leslie Cantu

Leslie Cantu

Leslie is a first year PhD student. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Social Work from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas. She completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from Texas A&M Kingsville. She is an Army veteran who served as a combat medic and continued working in the medical field for several years after completing her military service. Her research interests focus on active duty and veterans issues.

Jessica J. Thompson

Jessica Thompson, BSW

Jessica is originally from Kansas but has spent most of her adult life in the Dallas area.  Prior to transferring to UTA, she received her Associates of Arts from Dallas College, Eastfield Campus in 2020.  She graduated with her Bachelor’s of Social Work with a minor in Substance Use Treatment at UTA in 2022.  She is currently a Master’s student of Social Work with a concentration on children and families.  She hopes to work with children and families who have been impacted by substance abuse and misuse.  Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, hiking, cross stitching, reading, and binging various streaming services.

Michelle Guevara

Michelle Guevara, BS

Michelle is from Dallas, Texas and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology on the Clinical Health Professions track at UTA in 2021 and is a first-year Master’s student in Exercise Science Motor Rehabilitation. She hopes to work in a clinical setting with children, with her interests aligned in motor development and rehabilitations. Outside of school, Michelle likes to focus on being creative through drawing and painting as well as capturing fun moments with family and friends.

Sophia Steelman

Sophia Steelman

Sophia was born and raised in Longview, Texas. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Texas A&M University in May of 2022. In Fall of 2022, she began her master’s program in social work at UT Arlington. She wants to continue on to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a focus on mental health counseling. In her free time, Sophia loves to go camping, do puzzles and Lego, and spend time with her family.

Rigo Sanchez

Rigo Sanchez

Rigo is originally from California and is starting the Master of Social Work program at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his bachelor's degree in History from UTA where he went on to teach middle school social studies. His background has mainly been around education and is now seeking to assist the Veteran community. Being that Rigo served in the military, he is focused on the concerns of how mental health is affecting this population. He is pursuing his LCSW after graduation in hopes of providing any assistance he can to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. On his down time, Rigo enjoys time with his wife and two kids. Family means the world to him and really loves doing things with his children that he was not able to do as a child. From attending piano recitals to sports events, his children keep him busy. Rigo does enjoy playing video games, photo/video editing, and also wood working when he has time.