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.

Claire standing outside the Baker Institute

“Ever since I took a government class in 8th grade I’ve been really interested in government and as I got older I become more interested in public policy. I knew Rice was a good school and I enjoyed the atmosphere but I was concerned about the fact it was STEM-heavy school and I was wondering how much attention I would be getting as a social science major. However, I found that there are a lot of opportunities here for social science, even in research, and the university really values the subject area by giving great instructors and resources. The new social science building is really exciting. It shows that the university really has us as a priority and I’m excited to be able to experience it before I graduate.”

The Patricia Lipoma Kraft and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for the Social Sciences will be the new home for social sciences at Rice. It will be completed by 2020 and will house the Sociology and Economics departments, the sociology lab space, the Texas Policy Lab, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance and the Houston Education Research Consortium.

The amount of opportunities available to students in research and beyond the hedges are endless no matter what degree-path you take. “I am working on a professor’s research project here studying the history of the Texas Legislature, so I look at vote counts from legislative sessions in the 1800s. The goal of this project is to see how individual legislators voted, helping to see which conservatives were the most liberal or conservative in terms of how they voted. I have also done programs with the Center for Civic Leadership – I volunteer at an elementary school with with an organization called Girls Inc. working with an after school literacy program.”

Claire outside the construction for the new social science building

Claire has found herself at home with the 1,329 other Rice students who study social science for their degree and also with the Rice community as a whole. “[It surprised me] How much other students will look out for you. Even the other people in your class really want you to succeed. You can’t really understand it until you are here, but it is definitely one of the best aspects of Rice.”

Besides the academic community, Claire has found way to continue her musical passions through the Marching Owl Band and Campanile Orchestra as a violinist. “I have always been really passionate about music so I have found a place here within the Marching Owl Band. My mom went to Rice and I would come with her to homecoming and I would see the MOB play. I always wanted to be a part of the MOB and now I’m living out my dream by playing with them, even with my non-traditional band instrument – the violin. When I see kids at tailgates, I can’t help but remember when I was just watching the MOB but now I am part of the family here.”

“There have been so many moments here where I am reminded of how happy I am here. One of the most impactful moments was walking through Sallyport for Matriculation, surrounded by so many incredible people. It hit me that I was finally here after working so hard for so long for this. I had made it, and in 4 years, hopefully I will walk back out the Sallyport with not just my Rice degree, but with so amazing memories and friendships that will last long after my 4 years here.”