A mentor committed to the power of possibility

"Making that connection."

Terrence Gee '86 grew up in Houston, not far from Rice, but he knew little about the university before he stepped onto campus as a freshman.

“I passed by the university quite a bit,” he says of his exposure to Rice, or lack thereof, as a high school student. “But it was literally the place on the other side of the hedges. I really didn’t know anyone who had gone to Rice. I had this image of a place that was incredibly boring, purely academic, and definitely out of my reach. The richness of the campus life, that concept was foreign to me.”

He nearly didn’t attend, but his grandfather encouraged him to take advantage of the opportunity. After a successful career in business, for which his Rice education set a solid foundation, Gee looks back and considers that how he viewed the university as a young man could be a limitation for those in a similar situation.

Now, through his work with several Rice outreach and mentorship programs, he hopes to show high school students in Houston all that is possible for their own lives and to see Rice’s iconic hedges not as a barrier, but as a gateway to a bright future in higher education and far beyond.

Through support of the Worthing-Rice Apprenticeship Program (WRAP), Gee and his wife, Terri, enhance the efforts of Rice undergraduates, graduate students and professors to teach and mentor students on science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics at Worthing High School, in the Sunnyside neighborhood where Gee grew up. By bringing Rice into these schools, the program creates a stronger connection between Rice and young people in the Houston community.

“I want these students to know,” says Gee, “that, whatever you do, don’t let your current circumstances be the reason or the excuse for limiting your aspirations and ultimately limiting you’re ability to achieve objectives that are bigger and broader than the situation you find yourself in today. For many young people in Houston, the missing piece may simply be somebody making that connection.”

Giving student-athletes the big picture

Few can claim that they have mentored an NFL champion, but Gee is among them. NFL tight end Luke Willson was one of many student-athletes with whom Gee and his colleagues at Athenian Consulting Group shared their insight and experience through the sponsorship of Rice’s Student-Athlete Leadership Development Program.

Gee meets with student-athletes on a monthly basis to discuss a particular leadership theme and share his perspective as an experienced business consultant. The goal is to illustrate to current students how their athletic and academic work — including the relationships they build, the commitment they demand of themselves and the skills they develop — already form the foundations of a successful leadership profile.

“The key is being able to describe a broader framework for what leadership is all about and getting them to share their story and therefore help them to understand how what they are doing right now fits into that framework.”

“There’s a great deal of the satisfaction,” says Gee, “when we can talk to coaches and learn that a group of student-athletes who go through the leadership experience with us are rising to be captains of their teams and all-conference players athletically and academically. When you see that one of the participants went on to win the Super Bowl, well, not that there’s much or any credit that we ought to take, but it’s a satisfying feeling nevertheless.”

While not a student-athlete himself, Gee’s close friends and roommates taught him about the demands on Rice’s student-athletes to meet high expectations on the field and in the classroom.

As an alumnus who uses his own Rice experience to teach today’s and tomorrow’s Owls the value of their own, Terrence Gee gives them their Owl Edge.

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