Representative Rita Smart
Rita Smart is the representative for Kentucky's 81st District, which covers parts of Madison County. Originally from Nicholas County, Smart has spent her entire adult life in Richmond. Not only is Smart a Kentucky representative, she also runs the historic Bennett House Bed and Breakfast in Richmond, which was built in 1889 - 1890.
Smart was part of the Eastern Kentucky University class of 1971. She was a home economics and vocational education major. Smart said her favorite organization was Phi Upsilon Omicron, which was the home economics honorary society.
Although she did not major in any of the science fields Eastern offered, Smart says her favorite and most interesting class was chemistry.
"We didn't have it in high school," Smart said, referring to her chemistry class. "It was so interesting. We were able to make plastic, and this was 50 years ago. Things were much different. The Moore Building was just built and was brand new."
One of her most memorable moments at Eastern was freshman orientation. A popular tradition at Eastern was for freshmen to wear beanies.
"I remember coming down for freshman orientation, and all the students were wearing their beanies," Smart said. "Me, being from a small town, wasn't aware of the tradition and thought it was so interesting and funny. I felt like Richmond and EKU was a big place, compared to home."
During Smart's time at Eastern, Keen Johnson Ballroom was used as the cafeteria.
"They had great food," Smart said. "We all sat at little square tables there in the ballroom. Everyone would just stay around and talk. No one was in a hurry. It was fun time."
Smart said she never dreamed of becoming a politician.
She did not take any political science classes while she was a student. The only political experience she had was helping out in small local county races with her parents.
After college, Smart became a federal employee, so she wasn't able to participate in political activities.
She did not seek a political office until she had retired.
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