My story isn’t about individual achievements. I feel my story is about life-time achievements.
My name is Ritta Mason Poole and I am 65 years old this year. I was raised in Gastonia, NC by an older generation father and mother. I was their 9th and last child. We were a poor family but always had a home and food on the table. My father was a farmer and worked very hard in textiles and farming. My mother also was in textiles and later owned a small convenience store.
I graduated from high school in 1966 and Gaston College in 1968. I wanted to further my education but the money wasn’t there and frankly, girls weren’t thought to need more education at that time. (at least in my area)
I tried going back to school several times but just couldn’t handle going two or three nights weekly with the demands of a family and a full time job. In 1995, I heard about Montreat College and going to school one night each week. I was one of the first students at Montreat and obtained my BBA in 1997. In 2004, I also obtained my Master’s Degree at Montreat College.
Montreat College has allowed me to obtain the life-long educational goal I always had as a child. I know that it helped me when I worked at BellSouth (retired after 25 years) and now Carolinas Healthcare Systems (going on 9 years). I know I am a smarter Project Manager and trainer for new Project Managers entering my department. Also, Montreat has allowed me to teach the last eight years at the school; it has been such a wonderful blessing to me. I have felt part of the Montreat family for such a long time. No words can really express what this experience has meant to me. Teaching has given me the opportunity to give back what Montreat gave to me. It just can’t be measured how the school, the faculty and the students have blessed my life.
I thank God for Montreat and all the many blessings it has afforded me. I love God and want to be the best Christian and person I can be. The main goal in my life is to be able to say as in 2nd Timothy, Chapter 4, verse 7, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.”
Could you share a little more regarding your professional experiences?
At BellSouth (now at&t), I began in 1980 as an administrative clerk and then went to Service Representative, Telemarketing Account Rep, Service Consultant, and my last position was account manager before retiring after 25 years in 2005. My BBA in 1997 helped me go forward in my career and provided me with the confidence I needed to succeed. In 2004, I obtained my MBA and my goal was to teach at Montreat College which I am happy to say happened. (since 2005)
What areas of study do you teach?
I have taught Introduction to Business, Principles of Management, Servant Leadership, and the Orientation classes.
As a professor at Montreat, how do you encourage your students to value there time spent here?
I can use myself as an example of success through Montreat’s program. I can relate to their daily lives of work and family and trying to get an education which I did. I tell them if I can do it with my husband who became disabled when he was 53 with two heart attacks, (year 2000.) raising our oldest two grandchildren who were at the time were 7 and 9, they can do it also. I remember staying up to midnight or one in the morning doing school work and going to work the next morning. It was hard but it was worth it.
What are some realizations/discoveries that you have had since working in the educational system?
Students are all different and learn at different levels even as adults. I let them know I am on their side and want them to succeed. I let them know I believe in them and I believe in Montreat College and what it can offer them. Teaching at Montreat has never been anything but an honor for me and a chance to give back to Montreat and its students what it (the school) has given me.
Here’s the thing. As a poor child, I never felt “good enough” and I never felt “smart.” I was an average student growing up. I was lucky to get an associate degree when I was 20. I always wanted more and tried to go to school several times while working and having a family but just couldn’t handle it all. Montreat allowed me the opportunity with its program to succeed. There are no words to express what Montreat gave to me. It is far more than an MBA, it is a feeling of success. I want to mention also the teachers I have had inspired me professionally and spiritually. That cannot be measured.
What do you enjoy the most in your daily work?
I tell others when I have a chance about Montreat College and I have inspired a few students to go there as well as inspired a few students to believe in themselves and go all the way. As in instructor, I tell them to reach for the “Master’s Degree.” That is a stretch for some who are only initially looking at an associate. A funny thing happens though, they see someone else believe in them and then they start believing too.
Also, I teach new project managers at Carolinas Healthcare Systems in Charlotte every day and I watch the students go through the program and become successful. I owe that part of me to Montreat. You see since I believe it myself, I say this humbly…I inspire others to believe in themselves. I certainly couldn’t have asked for more in my life. I am blessed.