Citadel 2003 alumna selected for new class of White House Fellows

The Citadel Photo

Note: Lt. Rita Avila, originally from San Antonio, Texas, graduated from the South Carolina Corps of Cadets with a Criminal Justice degree in 2003. After graduating, Avila joined the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and currently serves as the assistant public information officer. Avila has also been one of The Citadel’s featured women for Women’s History Month.

As seen on the White House website

Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellows announces the appointment of the 2019-2020 class of White House Fellows.  The highly regarded White House Fellowship provides professionals from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to engage in public service for one year by serving in various roles in the Federal Government.

Created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows Program was designed “to give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal Government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”  The Fellowship was created as a non-partisan program and has maintained this tradition throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations.  The mission of the White House Fellows Program is to encourage active citizenship and service to the Nation.  Throughout the year, Fellows actively participate in an education program that expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues.  Community service plays a vital role in the program, and Fellows take part in service projects throughout the year.

The highly competitive selection process to become a White House Fellow is based on a record of professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills, the potential for further growth, and a commitment to service.  Selected individuals spend a year working as a full-time, paid fellow to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials.  Applications for the 2020-2021 Fellowship year will be accepted from November 1, 2019 – January 8, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. ET.  The application link and additional information is available at

2019-2020 Class of White House Fellows:

Rita Avila, Citadel Class of 2003

Rita Avila is from Charleston, South Carolina, and is placed at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  After graduating from The Citadel with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, she joined the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office in 2003 and was assigned to the Patrol Division.  She became a detective in 2007, specializing in crimes against children, vulnerable adults, and sexual assaults.  She provided training to community agencies and law enforcement personnel in child abuse and sexual assault investigations.  In 2011, Rita was promoted to sergeant.  During the next two years, she supervised the Special Victims Unit and the Metro Narcotics Unit and served in the Office of Professional Standards.  In 2014, she was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Patrol Division as the shift commander.  The next year, she was transferred to the Community Affairs Office.  Her duties include organizing community outreach programs to ensure a strong relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the community.  She is also tasked with leading the Recruiting and School Resource Officer divisions.  Rita is the assistant public information officer, handling media contacts and requests for agency information.  She is the team commander of Crisis Negotiation Team, a crisis intervention instructor, and a member of the Peer Support Team.  Rita is a graduate of the Carolina Command College and is a Furman University Riley Institute Fellow.