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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

RISE expands programs to sophomores and juniors


Courtesy Jason Nguyen

By Belinda Zhu     11/28/23 11:21pm

Rice’s Responsibility, Inclusion and Student Empowerment program, which was founded in 2021, will now serve sophomores and juniors. The program was previously exclusively for incoming freshmen who also attended a RISE pre-orientation seminar program in the summer. 

Incoming freshmen in RISE participated in a two-week summer class covering social justice topics alongside opportunities to explore Houston. In addition, freshmen received ongoing support during the school year, including academic and social advising and invitations to RISE events. 

Previously, sophomores and juniors who participated in the RISE program during their freshman year could continue their involvement as “Risers,” mentors to the new freshman cohort. Now, sophomores and juniors can be RISE program mentees. 

RISE held the first RISENext retreat serving sophomores and juniors at the Moody Center Oct. 14.

Anthony Wei, who attended the RISE program as an incoming freshman and the RISENext retreat as a sophomore, said the retreat was a great opportunity to learn more and connect with fellow Risers. 

“The RISE retreat was great,” Wei, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said. “The lawyer they brought in [spoke] about overcoming struggles and that really resonated with me. I was also really grateful to reconnect with everyone.”

Avalon Hogans, another RISE program attendee, said the retreat helped her plan her schedule and be mindful of her wellbeing. 

“One lesson that was super useful to me was the lesson where we handwrote a realistic schedule,” Hogans, a Sid Richardson sophomore said. “Usually I use Google Calendar, and it can be overwhelming looking at all these blocks of things I can do. It was really useful for me to handwrite because I realized, ‘Oh wow, maybe I can’t do this and that,’ because when am I going to relax or eat?”

Brittany Robertson, the associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion for undergraduate programs and designer of the RISENext Retreat, said she hopes to reconnect with and offer support to sophomores as they are at a pivotal time in their academic journeys. 

“You are given a lot of support with orientation [during freshman year]. Junior and senior year you are preparing for graduation, and sophomore year is such a pivotal time where you are thinking about declaring your major,” Robertson said. “Sophomore year is sometimes viewed as a year where you are lost and you don’t have a central focus.”

Robertson says she hopes through the RISE program expansion, students are able to learn about all available resources and navigate their college careers. 

“I want to refresh [sophomores’ and juniors’] memories because you hear a lot of information [during RISE and O-Week], but you forget,” Robertson said. “My goal is to make RISE feel like a community and not just the front end of their experience at Rice, but rather throughout their time at Rice and even when they graduate.”

Hogans said the RISE program used to be too exclusive and she is glad she can now bring her friends to events with her. 

“I’m really happy that we are able to open up these resources to other students,” Hogans said. “I think it is very important that as many students as possible are able to access resources related to DEI and social justice. I’m really excited to be able to bring my friends, including my STEM major friends who previously weren’t invited to RISE, to events and share these experiences and resources with them.”

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