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USW graduates first doctoral student

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Laura Hunt’s defense of her doctoral dissertation University of the Southwest was unique in several ways.

First, Hunt is the first doctoral candidate at the university and she represented an important step in the evolution of the school’s academic program. The university has offered Masters degrees in business and in educational leadership for several years. School administrators said pans are underway to begin offering a doctorate in educational leadership within the next few months.

Second, Hunt’s defended her dissertation in an open setting. Most such defenses take place in an intimate setting that allows the doctoral candidate to sit on one side of the table in a small room with his or her interrogators on the other side of the table.

Hunt’s defense took place on the stage of the auditorium where chapel is held on the USW campus. She sat on one side of the stage, the committee on the other, with a projection screen in the background between them. There were at least 25 spectators in the audience, including school president Quint Thurman and provost Larry Guerrero as well as Hunt’s husband, Brandon and daughter Lesley.

It also took place in front of several hundred potential doctoral candidates across the globe, Ryan Tipton, Dean of the College of Business Administration said.

“It was live streamed to students who wanted to see what the process is,” Tipton said. “That’s something that USW is able to do that prepares our students for success.”

The third thing that made Hunt’s presentation unique was the subject of her dissertation, Hispanic entrepreneurship in the oil and gas industry.

“There just was not much literature on the subject,” Hunt said after she successfully defended her dissertation. “I read everything I could find, but the rest I had to learn from talking with Hispanics in the oil and gas industry.”

Hunt’s Power Point presentation before the committee questioned her emphasized in part cultural aspects of Hispanic entrepreneurship, including family involvement and acquisition of financing.

Hunt began her doctoral program about 10 years ago, she said.

“I started studying educational leadership at the University of New Mexico. I was driving up there for a weekend once a month and with all that was going on at home, it got to be too much,” she said. “And so I changed course. I am just so excited about this. And I feel like I’m a pioneer since I’m the first to get this degree at USW.”

Her husband, who is the director of small business development at New Mexico Junior College and her daughter, a nursing student at Carlsbad Community College, were also excited and proud of Hunt’s achievement.

“She’s worked really hard for this,” Brandon Hunt said.

“I’m so proud of her,” Lesley added.

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at education@ hobbsnews.com.

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