Rita hails from Michigan, where she grew up swimming and boating in the Great Lakes. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Vision Science from Ferris State University, before earning her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Michigan College of Optometry.
One of her passions lies in the work she does in remote parts of the world, providing eye care and glasses to those who do not have access. She has travelled extensively, including Nepal, where she and her team provided care to thousands shortly after the 2015 earthquake.
Another passion of Rita's is nature and wildlife photography, including underwater and drone work. She is published online for National Geographic and was selected to have her photo, titled 'Our Blue Planet is Drowning in Plastic', exhibited at Photofest 2019 in Mexico. It was one of 25 photos selected by National Geographic for the international contest, 'A Planet in Balance'. Rita hopes her photography continues to inspire global conservation efforts.
Rita has extensive guiding experience with orca, humpbacks, and sperm whales, and has been personally field-trained by top marine videographer and cetacean expert Patrick Dykstra. She continues to work alongside Patrick and has helped on underwater film shoots in various capacities. While on safari, she enjoys helping people and making them feel at ease in the water. Rita is both scuba and free-diving certified. She is also certified through the International Lifeguard Training Program in CPR, first aid, and water rescue. When Rita is not in the water, she enjoys competing in Ironman triathlons and other endurance sports.