When Lorelei Dearing ’23 toured the Rice campus during high school, the Houston-native knew it was her dream school. At the time, though, it was not clear to her how she would afford a secondary degree. “College is expensive. My mother is a schoolteacher, and my father is a mechanic, so it felt really unfair for me to expect them to support me when I have three other siblings,” she says. “Receiving my acceptance to Rice was a blessing, but the immediate concern was ‘how do I pay for this?’”
Now in her fourth year at Rice, Lorelei applied for financial aid and, with the help of The Rice Investment throughout her time on campus, has been able to find community and pursue her unique academic passions. As a civil engineering and visual and dramatic arts double major, she has also taken advantage of numerous opportunities at Rice to put her studies into practice.
One of Lorelei’s extracurricular activities is acting as a research intern for Professor Jim Blackburn’s non-profit organization, Texas Coastal Exchange, which looks to local resources to tackle environmental issues. “My focus is finding how carbon is stored in soil. I created a giant encyclopedia of species of plants and grasses on the east coast of Texas and analyzed the actual carbon stored in the soil,” Lorelei explains. “We want to show the significance in keeping these beautiful open grass spaces alive to capture carbon and preserve our ecosystem.”
Alongside research-focused projects, Lorelei has sought leadership roles that connect her to her community. She has completed coaching sessions at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders and was a floor representative for Brown College, heading both the spirit and merchandise committee. “I've come to the point to where I've realized that being the best that you can be is a success in its own way. Overall, Rice has made me a stronger, more confident individual,” Lorelei says.
Reflecting on the moment that she received her financial aid package, Lorelei remembers crying tears of relief. She says, “The Rice Investment filled in financial gaps that I needed to fill. I would not be able to attend this school without financial aid. It’s made a really big impact on my life, and I am so appreciative.”
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