Ben Zaltsman '22 (Lovett)
Electrical and Computer Engineering Major
When Ben Zaltsman ’22 began his search for colleges, he was only considering schools close to home in New York. Once he was introduced to Rice University at a fateful college fair his senior year, he started making different plans.
“After doing some online research, I found that Rice had the same, if not better, academic prestige as a lot of the well-known East Coast schools I was originally drawn to,” Ben says. “My family emigrated from Israel when I was five years old, so I also liked the idea of exploring a new part of the United States.”
The Rice Investment, the university’s generous financial aid policy, was a huge selling point for Ben and his family. “A university that offers really generous need-based financial aid was absolutely critical for me, so that my family could afford all four years of college and I could graduate debt-free,” he notes. “Rice came through for me and offered me a full scholarship, and it still means a great deal to me to have the university’s support.”
As Ben prepared for his freshman year, there were so many questions racing through his mind. “I am the first person in my family to attend an American university, so I tried not to get overwhelmed by the process of moving halfway across the country to a university that is 10 times the size of my high school,” he remembers. “But there was also something exciting about blazing a new trail for my younger brothers.”
I look at it like a cycle — someone made an impact on my journey, and now I want to do the same. And maybe that will inspire someone else.
When he arrived at Lovett College, Ben quickly made friends with his roommate and other fellow Lovetteers. “It was my first taste of how the residential colleges play such a huge role in our campus culture,” he says.
From the beginning, Ben says, his fellow Loveteers went out of their way to make him feel at home. For example, when his laptop didn’t arrive on campus in time to register for his first semester of classes, “One of my O-Week Advisors let me use their laptop. They also served as a peer academic advisor, and I really appreciated the advice they gave me on how to best work toward my major.”
Once Ben felt settled into college life, he looked for opportunities where he could pay forward the advice and support he received as a freshman. “I’ve been a peer academic advisor and served in Lovett’s government. And I always have the intent to lend a hand to a fellow student,” Ben explains. “I look at it like a cycle — someone made an impact on my journey, and now I want to do the same. And maybe that will inspire someone else.”
"My life would be immeasurably different without Rice — and I certainly would not be here without scholarship support. I wish I could personally say thank you to every donor who made it happen."
The electrical and computer engineer is just as dedicated to making the most of his studies as he is to helping out his fellow students. “I’m inspired daily by amazing professors like Dr. Johnson, Dr. Segarra, Dr. Knightly and Dr. Wettergreen — they’ve taught me so much about the ins and outs of engineering,” he says. “My financial aid also made it possible for to study abroad in Sweden, which was probably the best experience of my Rice years.”
After graduation, Ben is certain that he wants to pursue a career in firmware engineering and one day start a family. “I’m really interested in what we can do when we push the firmware of an object to obey various commands via the internet, sort of like how an Alexa can turn on a light bulb,” Ben explains.
Ben feels fortunate to be in this position, and he credits his Rice degree with being set up for such a bright future. “Hands down, I’ve got so much open to me right now because I have Rice behind my name,” he notes. “My life would be immeasurably different without Rice — and I certainly would not be here without scholarship support. I wish I could personally say thank you to every donor who made it happen."
With generous support of the Rice Annual Fund, the university continues to offer Ben and other Owls the best in financial aid, residential college life, student activities, teaching and research. Learn more about how your gift to the Rice Annual Fund can make an impact.