News and Stories

Rice Owls are known for their inspired ingenuity, passionate pursuit of excellence and endless exploration of new ideas. Here are just a few examples of how members of our Rice community are putting Rice’s values into action long after they leave campus.

David Courtwright Ph.D. ’79 and Shelby Miller first met when he was a graduate student in history at Rice and she was the art librarian on campus. Their individual and shared experiences at Rice — and later as parents of an Owl — inspired them to pledge $300,000 toward scholarship funding as part of the Rice Annual Fund’s 24-Hour Challenge.

Priyanka Senthil ’25 was doing research on lung cancer for a thoracic surgeon for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in 2021 when she realized that more lung cancer screenings meant earlier detection and better outcomes. This set her on a path of advocacy that complements her ongoing medical research.

When Katharine Bonilla ’25 was in elementary school in Chicago, she struggled to find the support she needed academically and didn’t feel accepted at school. Then in middle school, two teachers stood out from the rest and provided her with the mentorship she needed to thrive academically and socially. Now, she wants to help others follow in her footsteps.

Isabel Wang ’26 unlocked a new passion when she laced up her first pair of ice skates as a young child, and she’s been a figure skater and coach ever since. She’s now spreading her love for skating across Rice and Houston in a new way.

When Alex Han ’24 was growing up, he was fascinated by his Korean great grandmother’s stories about surviving the Korean War and Japan’s annexation of Korea. Then, when he was in fifth grade, the stories stopped. He now knows that she developed dementia, and Alzheimer’s was robbing her of her stories — and their time together. This inspired his passion for Alzheimer’s research and his vision of a future as a physician and researcher. Opportunities at Rice are making his dreams come true.

Utana Umezaki first came to Rice from Japan as an undergraduate to participate in the TOMODACHI STEM program for women scientists, which gave her the opportunity to work on bio-inorganic chemistry in Professor Angel Martí’s lab.

For Alex Moreno-Gonzalez ’24, his sixth-grade band class set his life in a new direction. His head band teacher sparked a new passion for him — percussion instruments, especially melodic ones like the xylophone, rumba and keyboards.

With a double major in English and computer science, Gabby Franklin ’24 has perfectly aligned her career aspirations with her academic interests. “I want to further the intersection between creative work and the computer-driven world we live in,” she says. She’s well on her way, thanks to the support of the Rice community and her commitment to lead and make the world a better place.

When contemplating which university to attend, Sarah Kim '24 (Hanszen), a business major, prioritized location, school size and campus culture, ultimately deciding Rice offered the perfect blend.

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Phone: 713-348-4991

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