Making Memories: A Senior’s Reflection

It’s surprising to think that my time at Rice is almost over! It’s seems like just yesterday, I was moving into Martel College for O-Week in August 2012. Even though we’re only a week in, the second semester of my senior year has already been marked by a time of reflection.

Me on the first day of O-Week 2012 (left). Me at Esperanza (Rice's Homecoming formal) 2015 (right)! Look how I've changed!

Me on the first day of O-Week 2012 (left). Me at Esperanza (Rice’s Homecoming formal) 2015 (right)! Look how I’ve changed!

Since I’ve been at Rice, I’ve gotten to design a replacement for the guitar capo, sing in front of the school in cultural shows with the Black Student Association and African Student Association, serve at a charter school on an Alternative Spring Break trip, and be a part of an exhibit at the Rice Gallery.

Sophomore me standing next to a painting of my head in artist Gaia's MARSHLAND exhibit.

Sophomore me standing next to a painting of my head in artist Gaia’s MARSHLAND exhibit.

Aside from all of the wonderful opportunities I’ve had at Rice, I’ve also made some memories that will last a lifetime: I’ve seen the sunrise from the top floor of Fondren Library with my engineering teammates after a long night of project work and team bonding. I’ve spent hours after dinner in the commons of my residential college laughing to the point of tears with close friends. I’ve watched a Miller Outdoor Theater fireworks show from my balcony!

View of the Miller Outdoor Theater fireworks from Martel College.

View of the Miller Outdoor Theater fireworks from Martel College.

The last four years have been an incredible ride full of ups and downs.  As I prepare to close out my time at Rice, I look forward not only to the exciting academic pursuits ahead of me, but to the many memories to come.

Cattle, Horses, and Sheep – Oh My!

The Texas stereotype that seems to carry the most weight is that “there are horses everywhere”. While that typically isn’t true for the big cities in Texas, every March, Houston is home to one of the largest rodeos in the country, complete with farm animals, fried carnival food, and amazing concerts. Although I am a native Houstonian, until my freshman year at Rice (two years ago), I had never been to the Rodeo! Last month, I went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo twice – once to see Fall Out Boy in concert with friends from Rice and high school, and again to the carnival with friends from one of the campus ministries I’m involved in at Rice. My friends and I got to go on carnival rides and play carnival games, and we also got to watch several rounds of mutton busting, which I have now deemed my favorite Rodeo event. Even though it has only been one month since I was at the Rodeo, I long for the unique smells of fried food and farm animals, and next year, I am definitely looking forward to capping off my senior year with another wonderful Rodeo experience!

Check out photos from my rodeo adventures below!

My view during the Fall Out Boy concert - don't the lights look amazing?

An awkward selfie with my carnival dessert - it's fried cheesecake on a stick!

Baker College Limits

Several weekends ago, Baker College, one of the residential colleges at Rice, hosted its very own live music festival, Baker College Limits (BCL). Styled after Austin City Limits, the popular music festival in Austin, TX, the festival featured student performers from across campus. Baker brought in Houston-area food trucks and had a full stage set up. Some Alternative Spring Break groups were selling hot chocolate and mac and cheese to fundraise for their trips, and attendees could also have their photos taken – the festival organizers took care to ensure that there was something for everyone! I have always wanted to attend a live music festival, so I was incredibly excited that Rice was hosting one right on campus! As soon as I finished my schoolwork, I headed straight over to Baker to check out BCL. Unfortunately, the sky was pouring rain, soaking the Baker College quad and the concert stage! Despite the rain, there was still a good-sized crowd at BCL, so I pulled out my umbrella and jammed to some music with some friends from my residential college, Martel College.

Midway through my time at BCL, I realized that my laptop was still in my backpack, which was soaking wet! After dropping off my backpack in my room (and changing into more water-resistant clothing!), I biked back to Baker just in time to catch my friends Rachel and Nathan perform as part of their band, From the Valley. Luckily, the festival organizers moved BCL into one of the suites at the college, so From the Valley got to play an acoustic set.

I had such a great time at Baker College Limits, eating great food, dancing in the rain, and listening to AMAZING music created by people I lived and went to school with. I’m incredibly excited to see how BCL pans out in the future!

From the Valley performing in the Baker College President's Suite during Baker College Limits.

My Summer in Japan

This is a guest post written by Lisa Chiba, a junior Chemical Engineering major who did research in Japan over the summer.

While watching everyone travel to foreign exotic countries to study abroad, you might be wondering, is there such a thing as an internship abroad?  My name is Lisa Chiba, and I am a rising junior chemical engineering major at Lovett. This summer, I was a participant of the NanoJapan Program, an undergraduate experience which takes 12 students from across the nation to Japan for a research internship for the summer. The application was lengthy but straightforward: 3 essays, and 2 recommendation letters. (Link to the site: http://nanojapan.rice.edu/.) I decided to apply because I wanted to have international work experience during my undergraduate years while also having a supportive team of US and Japanese researchers to help me through the transition to another country. Now that the program is over, I can wholeheartedly say that this has been a great opportunity to have an immersive study abroad experience with the application of nanotechnology/terahertz research in the top labs in Japan.

I was placed in the Kawata Lab in Osaka University under the guidance of a post-doc and a graduate student. My topic was tailored to my interests in biology by my host professor; I studied deep ultraviolet excitation of fluorescent proteins for multi-color cell imaging, which is a method that has never been done before. That’s right, you’re researching into something that no one has before… you get to make genuine progress on a project that has a chance to get published!

Attending the Shirahama Conference with my two labmates! (I'm in the center!)

Living and working in Japan was easily the best adventure of self-discovery I’ve ever had. I never thought I would be able to study abroad because of the cost, and I really wanted to spend my time productively gaining experience through an internship. NanoJapan is NSF-funded, so you get a stipend to cover your stay in Japan. It also places you in challenging projects with famed professors in the nanotechnology/terahertz world. Along with the research opportunity, you become so close to the other NanoJapan students from around the country, and your labmates in your respective university, that you don’t want to leave after spending 12 weeks in Japan. It’s an experience I will always remember, and with the professional network I developed, I may return to the Land of the Rising Sun another time in the future.

Diversity at Rice

Hello, readers! Long time no see! The past two semesters have been really busy for me, but it’s good to be back. So many students have just decided where to spend the next four years of their lives (congratulations on your choices, and if you’re coming to Rice, I can’t wait to meet you in the fall!), and others are just beginning their college searches. Regardless of what stage you’re at, I want to take this time to talk about some of the things that make Rice unique.

One of the things Rice prides itself on is its diversity. Although we are far from perfect, we continually strive to diversify campus and the student body in many dimensions, and this makes Rice a great place for cross-cultural learning. Part of a new student’s first week at Rice is even devoted to diversity presentations and discussions!

One place that students find cultural communities on campus are in cultural groups on campus. Several of these groups have cultural shows (complete with a full dinner and performances) at least once a year, and all of the groups have at least one event during the school year. I am personally involved in the Rice African Student Association (RASA) and the Black Student Association (BSA), and I have participated in the cultural shows for both groups for the two years I’ve been at Rice. I love singing and dancing for the shows because of the way both groups unite me with people of a similar background. I also love attending cultural shows for other student groups because they open me up to so many traditions and ideas I wasn’t exposed to before.

For a list of cultural groups at Rice, visit http://studentactivities.rice.edu/content.aspx?id=2147483962.

Several members of the Rice African Student Association (including me!) dancing during Africaye 2014.

“There’s a Snake in My Boot!”: Screw Yer Roommate 2013

Screw Yer Roommate (colloquially known as simply ‘Screw’ at Rice) is a Rice tradition coordinated by the Rice Program Council in which students set up their roommates with the roommate of an acquaintance or friend, similar to that of a blind date. Screw’s purpose is to connect students to each other who may or may not have a chance to be friends otherwise. Traditionally, roommates either set up their friends with Screw dates that fit their romantic or platonic interests, or they screw each other over by choosing a date completely opposite from their roomie’s preferences (hence the ‘screw’ in Screw Yer Roommate). Because Screw typically happens on Friday evenings, couples form groups and go out to dinner or another outing to hang out and get to know each other better. For those of you wary of blind dating or dating in general, the event is more of a chance to make friends that you normally wouldn’t get the chance to meet in a low-key group date setting. I’ve participated in Screw for the two years I’ve been at Rice, and I am now good friends with my dates from both years.

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