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First cohort of student leaders receives Doerr stipend

Infographic by Dan Helmici

By Serene Lee     12/3/19 9:38pm

Only 11 student leaders out of 135 received stipends ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to compensate unpaid leadership positions from the first cycle of the Doerr Leadership Stipend Initiative. 

The first round of applications were due on Sept. 19, and applicants were notified about the status of their application on Oct. 24, 2019. 

According to Sarah Sullivan, an Administrative Specialist at the Doerr Institute, applicants were selected based on demonstrated financial need, leadership responsibility and their leader development plans. Many of the applicants held more than one leadership position.

“The recipients were very representative of the Rice campus,” said Sullivan. “It was extremely well split between student government and student clubs and organizations. It was also almost a 50/50 split between men and women, and we had no majority ethnicity wise, it was almost a perfect representation of Rice campus. The general applicant pool was very similar [in that regard].”

Started in the Fall of 2019, the Doerr Leadership Stipend was created in order to allow students with complicated financial situations to run for leadership positions at Rice. The stipend is available to any student that holds an elected or appointed leadership position at a residential college, the Student Association, the Graduate Student Association or any club or activity on campus that is officially registered through the university, according to the application.

One recipient, Jones College sophomore Ozioma Ozor-Ilo, said that the stipend has allowed her to pursue new activities while supporting herself financially.

“[This is] due to the lack of hours that I am able to work because of my leadership activities,” Ozor-Ilo, the treasurer for the National Society of Black Engineers, said. “I am also able to put more of myself into the leadership opportunities with a rigor that I could not before knowing that I have [financial] security through [the stipend].”

Duncan College sophomore Channing Wang said that he is glad the stipend exists even though he applied and did not receive it this cycle. 

“It’s about time someone recognizes the students who do so much work for literally nothing,” Wang said.

There has been a growing call in the Rice community for certain leadership positions to include financial compensation. Martel College senior Gabby Falcon believes that certain leadership positions, while voluntary, should be compensated for because of the amount of work involved and the impact it has on the Rice community.

“Rice has a lot of money. I mean a lot,” Falcon said. “I should not have to tell Rice where the money should come from [...] If there is truly no money for O-Week Coordinators or leadership on our campus, we should reconsider what we value most,” says Falcon. “I would challenge Rice to put their money where their mouth is. If you want to voice and advertise self-governance, then please show you care about students who want to share in that governance.”

Sullivan remains positive that the stipend will continue to be given to students in the future. 

“Our goal in Doerr Institute is to support students,” Sullivan said. “We want to help everyone at Rice develop themselves as leaders. We hope [this program] can grow and expand every year to help as many students as possible…[to] support students in their leader development journey and make leadership more accessible to students at Rice.”

Applications for the second cycle of the Doerr Leadership Stipend Initiative are due on Dec. 4, 2019, according to the Doerr Institute website. Applications for the third cycle will be due in February.

Disclaimer: Channing Wang is the photo editor of the Thresher.

[12/04/2019 10:06 a.m.] This article has been corrected to reflect Ozor-llos correct pronouns. 

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