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Mathematics and Science Academy Names New Principal 

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 23, 2013 – A longtime veteran of Rio Grande Valley education took over earlier this month as the principal of the Mathematics and Science Academy at The University of Texas at Brownsville. 
Dr. Wilma Jo Smetter
Dr. Wilma Jo Smetter
As Dr. Wilma Jo Smetter starts her new position, the academy will have 42 new high school juniors and a 100 percent retention rate with 46 seniors returning when classes begin Monday, Aug. 26. 
“I am excited to be here and everyone is here to create the best atmosphere for the students,” said Smetter. “I feel very fortunate to have a university president (Dr. Juliet V. Garcia) who understands our students and The University of Texas System giving the university the resources for the academy.” 
A goal of Smetter’s is to expand the academy’s student population possibly to include international students.  
“We are confident that Dr. Smetter will provide leadership in determining in what directions the academy should grow, and she will lead MSA to the next stage of its development,” said Dr. Mikhail Bouniaev, Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology. “Dr. Smetter has been a voice for parents who want the best for their children. She is now eager to be the voice of the MSA students and parents.” 
The Mathematics and Science Academy in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology was created by the 79th Texas Legislature in 2005. Graduating students receive a high school diploma from the Mathematics and Science Academy and have up to 68 semester credit hours, enough to have finished the first two years of college. The first cohort of high school-aged juniors began in fall 2007 and graduated with high school diplomas, and some with associate degrees, in spring 2009.  
Smetter was born in Falfurrias in Brooks County and 12 days later moved with her family to San Diego, Calif. Her father, Buck Garza, was a drill sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and after retirement worked more than 20 years for HEB. His jobs meant for Smetter many relocations and at least 10 primary and secondary schools. Smetter is a graduate of King High School in Kingsville. 
“I was always the new kid,” she said. “We had to adjust. I think that helped me in the roles I have been in.” 
A resident of Port Isabel and San Benito, Smetter enjoys reading and taking her family’s Chihuahua for walks.  
She has worked more than three decades as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in several Rio Grande Valley school districts. 
Smetter has been honored for her work by the Region One Education Service Center in Edinburg, the Harlingen Jaycees and Pan American University, now The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg. 
Smetter received a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1981 and a master’s degree in health and physical education in 1982 from Pan American University. She received a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction in 2002 from the University of Houston. 
The MSA will have its 2013 Convocation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 in the Education and Business Complex’s Salon Cassia.


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