Burrell earns national recognition

A Bagley College of Engineering staff member has earned a national award for her work with underrepresented students at the graduate level.

Rita Burrell, the BCoE’s graduate and distance education manager, was recognized as the National Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) Consortium’s Standing Chair of the Year. She has served as standing chair for its university committee since 2007.

Having been with the university for over 25 years, Burrell has served in her current capacity at the BCoE since 2006 and earned both her bachelor’s degree, in English, and her master’s in information systems from Mississippi State University.

The award is given each year to the GEM member who has made the most outstanding contributions in his or her capacity within the organization, as determined by a vote of the staff. Burrell says the award comes as quite a nice surprise.

“GEM is probably one of my favorite responsibilities, and to be recognized by them makes it all the more meaningful,” Burrell said. "To be able to support underrepresented students in securing funding for graduate school really makes the hard work worthwhile.”

The National GEM Consortium was founded more than 35 years ago and awarded its first fellowships in 1976. The organization’s mission is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans at the master’s and doctoral levels in engineering and science fields.

This mission is realized by connecting universities like MSU with companies such as Intel Corp., IBM, General Motors Co., and DuPont to select and financially support these fellows. Fewer than 90 of the 1,000 applicants are awarded fellowships each year.

The BCoE currently has three GEM fellows attending graduate school. For more information about the National GEM Consortium, visit http://www.gemfellowship.org.

Todd Dickey | Bagley College of Engineering

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