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Envision Grants fund student ideas

By Brooke Bullock     3/31/11 7:00pm

Leadership Rice's Envision Grants are awarded to students with ideas that benefit a community and facilitate leadership among Rice students. According to Leadership Rice Director Judy Le, this year's Envision grants fund four projects create a long lasting framework for leadership among students at Rice.

"We look for innovative ideas that benefit a community," Le said. "But we also look for ideas that students show they are capable of executing."

Owl List, proposed by Baker College junior Violetta Krol and Will Rice College Senior Konrad Stoick, received $2,500 to provide an online source for Rice students to buy and sell goods like furniture on campus.

"Owl List shows another side of the Envision Grant," Associate Director of Leadership Rice Dustin Peterson said. "It's a kind of business idea."

McMurtry College freshman Eli Spector and Wiess College freshman Rohini Sigireddi's project "Rice Through the Decades", which received $650, has two parts: WikiRice, a Wikipedia-like website students can edit about Rice, and a series of Podcasts that will begin in Oct. this year, although the podcasts are not fully planned yet. WikiRice has already launched and Spector said it has taken off well.

"We have 11,000 views with 10 percent them making edits," Spector said. "We've had about 1,000 edits since the site opened about a month ago and have about 32 content pages."

Sid Richardson college sophomore Rahul Rekhi's project RMI received $450 to work with students at underserved students. RMI will allow those students to work on science, engineering and math research with Rice professors and graduate students while being mentored by an undergraduate student.

"The idea for the RMI came about last fall, when Dr. Dereth Phillips of the Biochemistry and Cell Biology department mentioned to me that there was no infrastructure in place to help set up high school students to work in Rice labs, despite high — and ever-increasing — demand," Rekhi said.

Finally, Brown College seniors Pierre Elias and Ara Parsekian received $2,500 for the National Conference on Student Taught Classes. The conference aims to improve STCs at Rice by communicating with peer institutes that offer similar programs like Brown University, Tufts University, UC Berkeley, University of Pittsbugh and University of Virginia.

After the conference Elias said they will create a White Paper to advise universities on how to start, maintain and improve STC type programs. The conference will take place on April 8 and 9 and will feature Teach for America Vice President of University Partnerships Robert Lundin as a keynote speaker on the April 9. To attend the conference or the speech RSVP at http://bit.ly/eYBNO0.

Around 20 proposals were submitted for this year's grant. Le said she and Peterson worked with the students to rewrite and resubmit their proposals so that they were more clearly outlined.

Peterson said that all the recipients showed unique ideas that have potential for emphasizing leadership on campus. However, Peterson said that students must develop that leadership and make the project work on their own.

"Leadership is about having a big idea and making sure it doesn't die on your bosses desk," Peterson said. "They have to make it happen."

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