Trish Cunetto (Staff)

Trish Cunetto, pictured in front of educational playground equipment.

Trish Ashmore Cunetto remains thankful for all that her Mississippi State University education has helped her achieve. Following retirement from a rewarding 25-year career in education, Cunetto is still passionate about teaching—although her primary audience is now the alumni and friends she’s helping to educate about the importance of philanthropy as a fundraiser for the university. 

The retired kindergarten teacher shares her love for children with individuals, corporations and foundations who enthusiastically assist the MSU College of Education with gifts. She is especially ardent about fundraising for the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability, a part of the College of Education. 

“During my career as a classroom teacher, I always found great joy in being able to help children learn, especially those with disabilities. I often found myself spending time outside of the classroom with them and their families,” said Cunetto, who became director of development for the College of Education in 2012.

“Being able to help provide support for a center that does so much to help children and families has been such a joy during my time with the MSU Foundation.”

Another aspect of her job that inspires Cunetto is working with donors to endow scholarships for students who desire to become teachers. 

“When I was in college, there were not many scholarships available in education, and student loans on a teacher’s salary are difficult,” Cunetto said. “I enjoy giving back to MSU by assisting individuals who are passionate about education and want to establish scholarships so teachers can begin their careers without the hardship of educational loans.” 

Originally from Columbus, Cunetto graduated from MSU in 1986, the same year as her husband Dominic Cunetto Jr., a Starkville native whom she met at MSU. She then embarked on a career with the Mississippi public school system, teaching at Quitman’s Lower Elementary as well as West Side Elementary in West Point before retiring from Starkville’s Sudduth Elementary.

“As a lifelong educator, I understand that producing highly qualified educators who can make a positive impact on teaching and learning throughout the nation is critical,” Cunetto said. “I use my contacts in education to communicate the needs of the College of Education and ultimately Mississippi State University as I work to secure gifts for student scholarships and endowments for premier chairs and professorships, among other needs.”

Over her career, Cunetto enjoyed many honors. She was a member of the Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s Teacher Advisory Committee and the Mississippi Superintendent’s Advisory Committee. Additionally, she served the Mississippi Early Childhood Association as president, executive board member and chair of several committees.  She also received the 2007 Starkville School District Teacher of the Year and Starkville Rotary Club Teacher Excellence awards.