Rita Joiner Soza, a professor of business management at MiraCosta College in San Diego, earned an MBA degree from University of California at Irvine. Her undergraduate education began in 1969 at East Los Angeles College where she first met Dr. Helen Miller Bailey.
Students of Doc Bailey left her classes fired up with social conscience, which may have led Soza, decades later, to research Bailey’s life; although, the motivation to begin, what would become a nine-year writing journey, was as much a mystery to Soza as to all those who asked why she was so intrigued with a teacher who had died four decades earlier. But on her journey, Soza encountered generations of fellow Los Angelenos, burning with stories to share about the community college pioneer and social activist. Some suggest Soza’s project is simply another example of what they’ve come to refer to as “Doc’s magic.” Regardless of the driving force, there is no doubt that Soza has reignited the memory of a woman who altered the course of thousands of lives. To kindle interest in Doc’s story, Soza wrote a one-hour play, performed by her MiraCosta colleagues, some of whom now teach from the completed biography. Soza also helped organize the rededication of the renovated Helen Miller Bailey Library on the East Los Angeles College campus in 2012. Prior to writing this tribute, and realizing her lifelong dream of teaching, Soza enjoyed a thirty-year career in the private sector: corporate advertising, theatrical motion picture public relations, and human resources management with a Fortune 100 company. Soza and her husband Geoff live in a small California seaside town. The couple spends spare time in Los Angeles with friends and their daughter and son-in-law, Sunny Elizabeth and Douglas.