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Natali Hurtado Reaches New Career Heights with MPPA Degree
9/29/2017

From the beginning of her career, Natali Hurtado has focused her energy on influencing public policy for the greater good. Starting with internships for the City of Houston and United States House of Representatives, she gained experience attending hearings, researching policy issues and developing communications. Advancing to campaign assistant for a Harris County Civil District Court candidate and then district director for a Texas House Representative, she further refined her community engagement and policymaking skills. 

My experience in the MPPA program was outstanding and eye-opening. I was able to meet people from all different walks of life who were working toward similar goals as myself, but in different areas of specialty.

Aiming to elevate her career by becoming a master of both the administration and policymaking aspects of public service, Natali was one of the first to earn a Master of Public Policy and Administration at the University of St. Thomas. She said, “My hope was to complete the program with knowledge of both worlds that would easily translate to real-world implementation.”

Natali Hurtado graduates with the first class of the Master of Public Policy and Administration program at the University of St. Thomas  Houston, Texas

Today, Natali credits her studies in UST’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program with strengthening her ability to impact economic development for the public good. As director of services for the International Management District with economic development firm Hawes Hill & Associates, Natali works with the board of directors to improve the district through public safety, environmental and urban design and community development programs. 

Master of Public Policy and Administration grad Natali Hurtado receives an award for the Hawes Hill & Associates community garden  University of St. Thomas  Houston, Texas

“I am a better director of the district because of my experience at UST,” Natali said. “My Master of Public Policy and Administration degree has allowed me to better understand implementation of policies introduced by other governmental entities as well as develop policies on behalf of the board. Additionally, I have been able to better manage our $1.5 million budget by utilizing the tools taught to me in the MPPA program.”

University of St. Thomas  Houston, Texas Master of Public Policy and Administration grad Natali Hurtado receives an award from the Alief YMCA

Supportive Atmosphere and Relationships Spark Success

Beyond the practical merits of her MPPA degree, Natali also speaks highly of the supportive relationships she formed at the University of St. Thomas. “My experience in the MPPA program was outstanding and eye-opening,” she said. “I was able to meet people from all different walks of life who were working toward similar goals as myself, but in different areas of specialty.”

Master of Public Policy and Administration grad Natali Hurtado from UST Houston passes out pumpkins at the Hawes Hill & Associates Fall Festival

Like so many UST alumni, Natali raves about her professors. She commented, “I was able to foster excellent relationships with my professors, whom I always felt had my best interests at heart. The professors are accessible and genuinely care about your success. UST gives you a personalized experience. You're not just another student on campus.”

The professors are accessible and genuinely care about your success. UST gives you a personalized experience. You're not just another student on campus.

The praise went both ways, with chair of the political science department Dr. Jon Taylor commenting, “Natali took a chance on a brand new, unknown program, and she not only thrived, but excelled! Natali worked exceptionally hard to complete her MPPA while simultaneously balancing full-time work and family responsibilities. She exemplifies what we expect of students (and alumni) in the MPPA program: making a significant contribution to the public good, to our community and to our nation by being civically engaged and committed to public service.”

The University of St. Thomas is well-known for providing ample support to every student to ensure their success. Natali remarked on the flexibility of the program: “As a mother with a full-time job, I was able to complete the Master of Public Policy and Administration program without a hitch because I was in an environment where everyone was determined to see me succeed.”

Natali is an excellent example of our many graduates who are influencing change for the better through their work. We’re proud to be part of her journey, and we wish her every success!


Ready to learn more about the MPPA degree or other UST programs? Get in touch today and we'll send you more info.