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In honor of the Rice community members who passed away this summer

By Ruby Gee     8/17/12 7:00pm


In a photo taken two springs ago, Jennifer Young sits relaxed on the hardwood floors of the Brown masters' living room with students she had worked closely with as a mentor. Her posture is unpretentious, and with her ponytail and thoughtful smile, she could easily be mistaken for another Rice student.

It is a picture stowed away in the hard drive of Brown masters Steve and Laura Cox, who were like Young's parents away from home, and it captures well the essence that is Young. Bringing life to the scene that the digital pixels only partially show, Laura elaborated on an incident that day that she particularly remembers.

"I remember she was sitting here on the floor, with the students all gathered around. And Zhi Ting, one of our students, walked in the room ... and sees Jennifer sitting on the floor, and Zhi Ting was completely shocked that she [Jennifer] would be so personable [as to] get down on the ground with people and talk," Cox said. "And Zhi Ting called her 'Professor' - she called her by her last name - and Jennifer's like, 'you can call me Jennifer, it's okay.'"

A Brown College associate and computational and applied mathematics professor, Young was a passionate contributor to the Rice community, exceptional in both in her scientific research and ability to relate to students since her arrival at the university in 2010.

Before her death, Young was on her last year of the prestigious Pfeiffer-VIGRE fellowship. She had already changed the lives of many inner-city high school students by helping them successfully move on to college through the Worthing Rice Apprenticeship Program. As testified by a number of faculty members after Young's death, she was close with many of Rice undergraduate students with whom she worked, bringing joy to the Rice faculty with her positivity and friendliness.

"I think she had really found a family here at Rice," Laura said.

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