Young alumni create meaningful opportunities for today's students

Young alumni Stuart Nelson (Will Rice ’11) and Cyrus Wirls (Will Rice ’13) — both of whom work at the Institute for Spirituality and Health in the Texas Medical Center — each benefited from internship experiences while students at Rice. Now, they are giving back by creating opportunities for today's owls. 

Together they welcomed Owl Edge Externs for a day-long visit in the spring, then invited students to apply for summer-long Owl Edge Internships to work on research projects that seek to better understand the cross-section between health and spirituality. Cognitive science major Zara Khan (Sid Richardson ’17) and natural sciences major Navya Kumar (Hanszen ’19) have gained valuable professional exposure and real-world experience as a result. 

“This was an outstanding opportunity to connect with bright, motivated students whose interests aligned with those of my organization,” says Stuart.

Zara gained a great deal professionally through her workplace experience in addition to researching how various religious communities support women that have chosen to have an abortion.

“My time-management skills have improved astronomically,” she says. “It's one thing to manage your study time wisely as a student, but when there are others relying on you to show up on time for meetings and deliver products by a certain day, that requires a slight shift in mindset. Most importantly, I've developed the ability to reach out and connect with other professionals outside my organization who might have insights or feedback about what I'm working on.”

“I will absolutely [host externs and interns] again each time it is available.” - Stuart Nelson '11

Navya is seeking to understand the Houston Hindu's perspectives on transgenderism and is creating a blog and podcast to share her findings.

“Rice encourages students to explore past academics,” she says. “For me, that means that during my internship, I was able to talk about a lot of things with some degree of knowledge. I was able to speak on social issues and new policy updates, all because students are encouraged to discuss these things at Rice.” Navya received funding from the Owl Edge Experience Fund to support her living expenses.  "I couldn't have done this without your help.  I cannot wait to share my ideas at Rice."

We need externship hosts across Houston to provide one- to five-day job shadowing professional development opportunities for students over winter break and Spring Break. Visit to sign up before the Oct. 28 deadline.

Recent Stories

  • Rice University is ...

    read story
  • Maurice Frediere '19: Learning to lead in a time of need

    read story
  • Gita Deva '19: Scholarship Opens the Door to Global Impact

    read story