Rita is Manager for Graduate and Distance Education in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU). In this role she manages the academic graduate programs in the college, including the 12 distance programs. With 35 years of experience in an academic setting, Rita has also served Mississippi State University as Associate Director of Graduate Studies and Site Coordinator for AGEM. Professional affiliates include ASEE (professional interest divisions include CPD, Ethics, Graduate, International, Minorities, and Women), the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), and the National Association for Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA). A graduate of Mississippi State University, Rita holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Information Technology from Mississippi State University. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta (English Honorary Society). Rita currently serves on the GEM Executive Committee, Standing Chair, University Committee (since 2007). She received the GEM Standing Chair of the Year Award in 2012 in honor of her commitment to the GEM mission and exceptional volunteerism. Rita received the 2011 Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award (Staff) for Mississippi State University. In her current role in the Bagley College of Engineering, she provides support to under-represented graduate students, serving as mentor, advisor, and “procurer” of the financial resources necessary to ensure opportunity in an effort to support a diversified workforce in academic, industry, and governmental agencies.