Shernita Lee has been appointed director of the Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion (ORDI).

Lee will oversee Graduate School recruitment efforts in coordination with the university’s graduate programs across all campuses. The office also provides support to students as they become acclimated and adjusted to their degree and certificate programs via inclusive and diverse programming to meet their needs.

ORDI also provides frequent opportunities for students to connect with other students, faculty, and administrators in both social and academic environments with a focus on community to maximize students’ success and help them complete their degrees.

Lee also will manage a range of Graduate School inclusion and diversity initiatives and programs, such as Diversity Scholars, “connect” events for underrepresented, first-generation and other student groups, and the university’s Bouchet Graduate Honor Society chapter.

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw noted that Lee earned a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, and while she was working on her degree she was a graduate assistant in ORDI, working closely with leadership.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Lee join the Graduate School,” she said. “She wanted to get back into graduate education, and her heart, soul, and experience have been focused on inclusion and diversity for a long time.”

“The Graduate School was a special and welcoming place during my doctoral studies, so I am excited to be a part of its leadership to continue its mission focused on innovative, inclusive, and individualized graduate education,” said Lee. “I look forward to furthering its efforts to continue recruiting stellar graduate students and provide programming and support for graduate students.”

Lee said she is passionate about creating a diverse and inclusive environment for graduate students, improving graduate student retention, aiding in the navigation of challenges graduate students encounter, and directing students to university/departmental resources and advocates to help them thrive during their time at Virginia Tech and successfully complete their degree.

Lee’s training is in computational biology, but she also specializes in student engagement and programming and outreach. Her research concentrations include the student mentoring experience, factors influencing a student’s experience and success, and the development of interactive activities to promote STEM exposure to K-12 populations. Prior to joining the Graduate School, Lee was a programs specialist in education and outreach for the Biocomplexity Institute.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Alabama State University and a doctorate from Virginia Tech in genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology.

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