Alice Armintor Walker ’96 grew up in a small Texas town about two hours east of Houston. She graduated as valedictorian and set off for Rice, where she majored in chemical engineering. Initially, Walker did not give much thought to how she would finance her education. Her father handled the finances while she focused on her studies.
In the middle of her junior year, however, Walker learned that her father would no longer be paying her tuition. At a loss for her next move, she visited Rice’s financial aid office for advice. “I don’t know what to do,” she remembered saying. “My dad isn’t paying for my schooling. My mother makes minimum wage. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here.”
The financial aid officer was sympathetic to Walker’s situation. “The man sitting across from me,” Walker says, “just looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry. We are going to work with you.’”
Walker recalls feeling both relieved and surprised at the compassion built into the financial aid process. “I loved my time at Rice, and I felt grateful to be there,” Walker says. “But it was a really difficult personal time for me. My grades weren’t the best.” In the end, however, a dedicated financial aid officer found a scholarship to cover her last year.
Walker’s personal experience was top of her mind when the university announced The Rice Investment. “The program didn’t surprise me,” Walker clarified. “It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about Rice. I always knew they were generous with financial aid. They’ve always tried to work with students. Now it’s a story we are telling to the entire world.”
Currently a successful business owner, consultant and a dedicated Rice volunteer, Walker has never forgotten the compassion and support she found at the university. “My own experience was a powerful lesson in inclusion and support," Walker explains, "and that's why I'm prioritizing this financial aid initiative."
Learn more about how you can support The Rice Investment. Visit envision.rice.edu/thericeinvestment.