With an aptitude for math and science, Sebastian Gonzalez ’19 (Lovett) applied to Rice because of its impressive bioengineering program. Growing up in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, Sebastian was not entirely familiar with Houston or the university, but it only took a single campus visit for him to see that Rice was the perfect place to pursue his education. He was inspired by the gorgeous campus, but it was the relaxed, happy students that convinced him to attend. “Everyone had a positive attitude,” Sebastian says. “I knew I could excel in this environment.”

Sebastian arrived on campus his freshman year with an interest in engineering and an open mind. “When I came to Rice, I was ready to try new things. I know a lot of people go to college with their entire path set. But I came in thinking, ‘Let’s see what happens.’”

One thing Sebastian discovered was a deep passion for gardening. After taking the community gardening class with Joseph Novak, he became a committed gardening advocate. In 2018, Sebastian was part of a team that helped develop a grant proposal to secure funding for the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden. This half-acre Rice Community Garden is a verdant arrangement of garden boxes, flowering trellises, blossoms and vegetables — all fully accessible for gardeners of varied interests and abilities.

Sebastian also funneled his passion for sports into a sport management and economics double-major. Tom Stallings, professor of sport management, was instrumental in mentoring Sebastian, eventually helping him land a coveted internship with the Houston Astros. “Working with the Astros was an incredible opportunity,” Sebastian says. “That amazing organization provided mentorship and a sense of community that was instrumental in guiding my career path.”

Looking back on the last four years at Rice, Sebastian is reflective of the challenges, opportunities and growth he has experienced. “I struggled when I first came to Rice. I wasn’t necessarily prepared for the expectations and the work required, so it took me a while to find my niche,” he says. “In the past two years I have really learned to balance my work, manage stress, and take advantage of the amazing resources on campus. Developing the garden and working with the Astros are two major highlights that show me just how much I’ve grown.”

Sebastian is quick to credit his experiences and achievements to scholarship support. “Without financial aid, I would not have been able to attend Rice. What’s great about The Rice Investment is that it is a clear-cut financial aid package. It speaks to people who are scared about higher education costs or who think a school like Rice is unattainable.”

 “The Rice Investment is also important because it means more people will have access to the opportunities that have helped me to expand my abilities.” Sebastian says, “It means more people like me will come to Rice.”

To learn more about supporting student scholarships, visit our webpage on The Rice Investment or reach us at 713-348-4600 |


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