Dr. Natasha Schmittou was awarded her Ph.D. during the Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony.

Dr. Natasha Schmittou was awarded her Ph.D. during the Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony.

UIW’s 200th Ph.D. was awarded to Natasha Schmittou during the Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 6. Schmittou earned her doctorate degree in education with a concentration in organizational leadership from the Dreeben School of Education.

From the age of seven, she aspired to obtain her Ph.D. and with the encouragement of her parents she set out to achieve her scholastic dreams. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in children studies from UTSA and a master’s degree in organizational learning and behavior from UIW.

A native of Panama, Schmittou believes her biggest passion in life was given to her by God. “He assigned me the position of a philanthropist 14 years ago,” explained Schmittou. “This is when my desire to pursue my Ph.D. became stronger than ever.”

At age 14, she volunteered at a military base where she nurtured babies while their parents were serving the country. By 21, she began speaking to youth groups, some juveniles, empowering them to make positive changes while building their faith in God. And today, as a Ph.D. graduate, she continues her philanthropic pursuits.

Schmittou has worked and held leadership positions in the fields of business, education, military and mental health. Currently, she works as curriculum/instructional designer for Alamo Colleges where she teaches faculty and professors pedagogical and technological best practices in higher education to diverse populations.

UIW attained accreditation to award the interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy in the Dreeben School of Education in 1998 and produced the first graduate in 2001. To date, graduates have come from 15 countries with 190 students currently enrolled in the program.

“Over the years, the doctoral program has evolved into a vibrant part of the Dreeben School of Education,” said Dr. Denise Staudt, dean of the Dreeben School of Education. “By honoring the 200th graduate of this program, we honor the history of the program and its impact on the field of leadership.”