Krista Schmitz becomes first Sabre to net IO Psych Master’s

If you went back in time to Xavier High School in Appleton and told Neenah native Krista Schmitz that her future would include becoming the first ever graduate of Marian University’s 100% online Industrial Organizational Psychology master’s program, she would understandably be a little confused.

“I’d heard the term a few times in my high school Intro to Psychology class, but never thought much of it,” she said. “But when I transferred to Marian as a sophomore and took a class dedicated to it, I immediately fell in love – it’s exactly what I was looking for in life.”

Krista graduated high school in 2015 and went to UW-Fox Valley for her first year, believing it was best to complete her general education requirements without delay. Then, she became a Sabre, thinking that teaching was a possible path, and knowing how reputable Marian’s Education programs are.

But, she couldn’t shake the fascination with psychology she had developed in high school, and decided to change majors. Around this time she was introduced to Gina Possin, founder and director of the Marian University Industrial Organizational Psychology graduate program, and her love for the topic was reignited.

Earning her bachelor’s, she took a month off before entering the program, and became its first graduate in May 2021.

“I knew that if I earned a master’s in it that there would be a lot of career opportunities for me, and I knew it would benefit my future by allowing me to do what I wanted,” she said, noting she didn’t have to even graduate for that belief to become a reality – in March 2020, with the pandemic in its infancy, she was contacted by a former supervisor looking to hire a behavioral technician, but who instead hired Krista for a position whose job description she herself wrote. “The program’s online setup allowed me to stay on track to graduate while working full time, and I enjoyed the flexibility it offered, while never feeling like I was ever on my own with all the help Gina provided.”

Krista’s since gone on to work at TRIO Academy in Oshkosh, doing one-on-one therapy with children and teenagers on the autism spectrum and developing supervisor skills by training and giving feedback to the staff on therapy techniques.

And, she hopes to either continue helping individuals with disabilities by giving their employers and businesses the training and guidance they need to help them succeed as a part of their work force, or she’d like to offer training and guidance to first responders to help them when interacting with non-verbal children or adults.

But even now, it still hasn’t quite hit Krista what she’s all accomplished so far.

“It still doesn’t feel real, it went by so fast, and I’m still not sure what to think about being the program’s first graduate,” she said. “I’m just proud of myself, thankful for the opportunity Marian provided me, and I hope there will be many more graduates of the program who are able to go on and make a positive impact and make the most of their opportunities.”