UNIV 110: First Year Foundations

Wrapping up my freshman year at Rice, I can honestly say that one of the most influential classes I took was UNIV 110: First Year Foundations. As the name suggests, this class is geared towards helping new students navigate their first year (and beyond) at Rice. It exposes them to the many resources and opportunities available on campus. The instructor and the two upperclassmen Peer Guides give helpful advice on everything ranging from classes to off campus living.

Signing up for UNIV 110 was not only one of the best decisions of my Rice career, but one of the best decisions of my life. Through this class, I gained more than information about navigating Rice, on campus resources and opportunities, and helpful advice. I also gained another layer of community, strengthening existing friendships and forming new ones with people all across campus. The discussion-based format helped everyone understand each other’s perspectives, and helped everyone get to know each other. We have a strong group bond – for example, the Saturday before the first week of finals, we all reunited and went out to eat in Rice Village.

Additionally, I learned a lot about myself through this class. The reflective papers and projects allowed me to take a look at myself and the ways I’ve changed since first setting foot on this beautiful campus. Knowing yourself is the first step towards doing anything in life, and this class helped me accomplish that.

I highly, highly recommend this course to incoming students. It is a relatively stress free environment that allows for tons of identity and community building. If you have room in your schedule for UNIV 110, sign up for it. You won’t regret it.

Owls, Owls Everywhere! ASB San Francisco

Being a Rice Owl can take you to some exciting places. This Spring Break, instead of staying at home in Houston, I traveled to San Francisco, California on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to focus on the education gap in our nation.

What is an Alternative Spring Break trip? It’s exactly what the name suggests. No misnomer here! It is a service trip sponsored by Rice’s Community Involvement Center that you have to apply to. If chosen, you and the other members of your group go volunteer with the specified organization. There are several ASB trips each year, with various destinations and organizations. You can view a list of the 2012 trips at this link, under “2013 Trip Destinations”: http://cic.rice.edu/asb/#Student Information Sessions.

In San Francisco, I was paired with a teacher at a middle school. During the school day, I observed and helped out in the classroom, and afterwards, I volunteered at the built-in after school program. Not only did I get to help the kids, but I also got to learn about them, play games with them, and talk to them. I now understand the current state of our public education system better, and I learned that educational inequality involves many complex features. There isn’t an easy solution for educational inequality, but little things, such as telling a kid about your experiences in college, can potentially make a difference.

In addition to volunteering, my ASB group and I also got to tour around San Francisco. Some of the places we went to included Ghirardelli Square (I had the BEST ice cream cone in my LIFE), Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, and Baker Beach.

I mentioned how being a Rice Owl can take you to some exciting places. My group and I stayed in San Francisco for only a week. But, one night, as we were headed back on the bus to the place we were staying at, we met a Rice alumnus! One of my friends had been wearing a Rice hoodie, and the alumnus noticed it and started talking to our group. He had graduated a few years ago, and told us he now works in San Francisco. Owls, Owls, everywhere!

In short, my ASB experience was amazing, and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Here we are at Baker Beach. Some of us made an ASB SF light show with our phones! Photo Credit: Soorya Avali.

 

College Courses (COLL)

This semester, I am taking a College Course called “Inequality and Mobility.” Every Monday for an hour, I get to take an in depth look at the causes and effects of income inequality in the United States.

Rice students, primarily upperclassmen, who are passionate about a particular topic and want to share it with their peers, teach college Courses. In order to teach a COLL, a student’s proposal must be accepted by the Dean of Undergraduates.

Taking a COLL has allowed me to absorb information in a stress-free and inquisitive environment. The class is only one credit hour and is graded on a satisfactory/nonsatisfactory scale, so it is not a huge time commitment. However, despite having the class only one hour per week, I have gained a lot from it, and the information I have learned will be useful in my future endeavors.