Stephen Sibley ’18: A 'Pinch-Yourself' Kind of Moment

Stephen Sibley ’18 remembers staring out an office window on the 38th floor of Williams Tower in Houston when he got the news. His heart leapt. The afternoon traffic crept along Post Oak Boulevard below, while the shock overtook his body. Then, a rush of excitement and relief.

“It was definitely a surreal, pinch-yourself, is-this-actually happening moment,” says Stephen, reflecting back on the day he received the Crownover Scholarship. It is what happened afterward, he says, that transformed the course of his life.

As a part of the Crownover Scholars program, named in honor of Jim Crownover ’65, the Rice University Board of Trustees chairman emeritus, Stephen received a full tuition award to Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, along with a generous stipend for living expenses.

To Rice Be True, the flagship initiative for gift planning at Rice, calls us to think more boldly and take our generosity to the next level by making commitments that will last beyond our lifetimes.

It was the news that shell-shocked his average Friday afternoon, and fittingly so. The scholarship removed all financial barriers to getting an MBA, something which worried Stephen during the rigorous application process. Now, he says, there’s a newfound freedom when plotting his future that includes much more room for risk and discovery.

Perhaps even more valuable, however, is the time Stephen also gets to spend with Jim himself, meeting for breakfast every couple months to chat over veggie omelets. As a part of the scholarship, Jim personally mentors every finalist, discussing everything from schoolwork to business to life after Rice.

Along with his philanthropy, which includes a generous bequest to Rice, Jim has fostered a legacy in the very spirit that inspired To Rice Be True — Rice’s bold new Gift Planning initiative.

“I don’t think there are any words to fully express or encapsulate the gratitude and appreciation I have for receiving this opportunity,” Stephen says. “There’s so much freedom in receiving this scholarship. It’s not just changing my life now, it’s changing it forever.”

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