Social Science Owl: Claire Noel

Most people think of Rice as a STEM focused school with most students majoring in natural science or engineering. I used to think the same thing and came into this university wanting to pursue a degree in natural science. However, I quickly found out that the people around me were not all studying science and a large amount of my friends were studying social sciences and humanities at Rice. Two of my O-week advisors, multiple people on my floor and in the campus band, and some of my closest friends are all pursuing a major in the social sciences. One of my friends, Claire, is a double major in political science and social policy analysis. Continue reading

Diversity Facilitators at Rice

This past O-Week, I served as a Diversity Facilitator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Diversity and inclusion have long served as two core aspects of my life. During high school, I was involved in a variety of activities related to social justice activism and inclusion. When I came to Rice, I knew that I wanted to translate my passion for advocating for a more diverse and inclusive environment into extracurricular opportunities that were not available to me before I came to Rice. When the opportunity to apply to become a Diversity Facilitator came around, I knew that it would be a wonderful way to learn more about issues related to diversity and inclusion, as well as to grow as a communicator and leader.

During O-Week, the other Diversity Facilitators and I served a resource that the New Students could utilize to learn more about or discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we led workshops for the 950+ New Students about the importance of diversity and inclusion in our education.

While we serve as a resource specifically for New Students and Advisors during O-Week, we also serve as a resource for all undergraduate students throughout the school year. Rice’s Diversity Facilitators lead Dialogues on Diversity every Friday at lunchtime. During this time, Diversity Facilitators will pair up to lead a discussion about current events and issues, media, and policy pertaining to diversity and inclusion. Last semester, my fellow Diversity Facilitator Diana and I led a discussion about what voter suppression is and how voter suppression impacts the ways in which constituents vote. 

For this upcoming O-Week, I will serve as one of two Diversity Coordinators. As a Diversity Coordinator, I will oversee the Diversity Facilitator program, the selection and training of Diversity Facilitators, and the planning and execution of our O-Week events and weekly discussion lunches. We are beyond excited to be playing a role in the planning of O-Week, and are beyond grateful to serve as a resource for you throughout your four years here at Rice.

Perfect Group Photos

     The days leading up to the start of my freshman year were nerve wracking. I was terrified of moving away from home. After years of living on the same street, in the same house, with the same group of friends, I never thought I would be able to make connections with the people around me. Now my phone is littered with group photos from my first semester here and not only do I have friends, I have a family here.

It all started with my roommate and my floor. A family was already built for me where I lived on Brown 2nd – we even had a floorsgiving together! I could not be more grateful for those that live around me.

Brown College’s 2nd Floor Floorsgiving

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Soarin’, Flyin’, and Dancin’ Our Way into Homecoming with the Owls!

When I was a senior in high school deciding where to apply for college, I knew that I wanted to go to a school that had a dance team. As a seasoned dancer and dance/drill team member in Texas, a state known for its high school football, I knew I wanted to continue performing at sporting events and promoting school spirit in college. As soon as I confirmed that I would be attending Rice this year, I looked forward to joining the Rice Owls Dance Team, an organization of which I am now a member.

It can be nerve-wracking to join a new team, but I soon realized that the girls on the Rice Owls Dance Team are compassionate and dedicated to dancing and fostering a welcoming community. We have a big-little sister program in which the officers assign a rookie (new member) to two veterans who will mentor her throughout the year. My coach, the officers, and my “big sisters” helped me learn the ways of the team earlier this fall, and I excitedly jumped into performing with my new teammates.

The Rice Owls Dance Team performs at all home football, volleyball, and basketball games, as well as other events such as pep rallies and our annual Spring Show. We practice twice a week and learn exciting pom, jazz, and hip-hop dances to popular songs like I Like It by Cardi B and Womanizer by Britney Spears. Everyone works hard to make our dances shine both on the field and on the court, and each member exhibits their desire to promote the good of the team. Though Rice may not have the same gameday experience as larger state schools, the students and alumni that reside in Houston cultivate a vibrant atmosphere at sporting events that any Owl can appreciate.

We performed at our last football game of the season this past Saturday, but our work is not over yet. Basketball season has only just begun, and we still have our Spring Show to look forward to at the end of the academic year. If you are interested in seeing what one of the best spirit squads at Rice is all about, come on out to one of our performances to help us cheer on the Owls! Rice Fight Never Dies!

Members of the Rice Owls Dance Team wearing our new uniforms at the homecoming game!

Full-Time Student, Part-Time Worker

As a college student, I already have a lot of responsibilities on my plate, ranging from academics to my extracurriculars to maintaining strong relationships with my friends. Another one of these responsibilities is my job. Last summer, I worked for OpenStax, a non-profit organization that utilizes openly-licensed resources to make free textbooks for students. I really enjoyed working here, as I was able to combine my passion for education accessibility and affordability with my interest in marketing and communications, all while making friendships along the way. When I found out that I had the opportunity to continue working here when the academic year started, I was ecstatic!

When the semester first started, I had a bit of difficulty managing my time so that I could best balance my schoolwork with my job, other extracurriculars, and social life. However, as the semester has progressed, I’ve gained a variety of crucial time management skills that I know will benefit me for the rest of my college career. If you’re one of the many Rice students who plan to work while in college, here are some tips to help you manage your time and keep track of your schedule:

-Use a planner or an online calendar to keep track of classes, club meetings, and appointments. I use Google Calendar, where I can easily input the times and locations of my classes and meetings and keep track of where I need to be via a color-coded system.

-Maintain a routine sleep schedule during the week. It can be really tempting to stay up in your college’s commons with your friends until 3 in the morning. Even though this is perfectly fine to do occasionally, if it becomes a regular activity then it can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and leave you feeling exhausted (trust me, I’ve been there!). I find myself feeling healthiest and best organized when I maintain a consistent sleep schedule during the school week.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help! College can be very stressful, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate. However, it’s crucial to remember that Rice has an amazing culture of care, and everyone you meet – ranging from your friends in your residential college to your professors to your magisters – care about your wellbeing and are here to support you during times of both success and trouble.

The Familiarity of Family

When I came to Rice one of my major fears was being homesick. Although my family was only as far away as Dallas, I was worried that I would lose the support system and familiarity that I had by living with them. I believed that although Rice had a “culture of care” it could never have the true familiarity of family and friends that I had developed in my hometown in the 18 years I had been alive. I can now say after being at Rice for over eight weeks and coming off of Family Weekend that I have been proven wrong.

Rice has made me feel welcome ever since the first day I stepped on campus and provided me with a strong support system in the form of the variety of groups of friends I have found and Advisors that are always available to answer your questions. I have found my family in places such as my suite at Sid Richardson to my workplace at East West Tea. Rice honestly makes it harder to remain isolated as they do everything in their ability to find at least an Advisor to be a direct line of support. All new students at Rice go through an intense awesome experience known as O-Week which is a week of events and discussions with Advisors that leads to new friends and a game plan for the year to come. My O-Week experience started with the introduction to my O week group and five Advisors. I have remained close with all of them ever since and I still go to these Advisors when I look into my classes for the future and overall help becoming a college student and understanding how to manage my time. Besides O-Week groups, each Residential college has its own culture that can make it become one big family as well.

I belong to Sid Richardson College: statistically the tallest residential college and the smallest freshman population on campus. The freshmen are split among seven floors with each floor having its own culture and each having a residential health Advisor who is always available for any sort of complication be it mental or physical. My floor for example, has a family vibe due to the fact that we have a large dining room table and living room lobby space. Every night many of the freshmen on the floor gather to work together at the table sharing in one another’s company and stress over the work to be done. Even though we use the lobby as a place to study, knowing there are other people in a similar situation to me and are able to relate to what I am going through acts as a familiarity for me allowing me to talk to others about it. Continue reading