Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, June 24, 2024 — Houston, TX

Dixita Viswanath

NEWS 2/4/14 6:00pm

Students organize finance networking opportunities

A series of lunch talks that aims to expose Rice University students to various networking opportunities in the field of investment banking and finance began Jan. 24, according to hosts Victoria Alvarez-Arango and Adrian Celaya, both Will Rice College sophomores."[The Investment Banking Brown Bag Lunch Series] aims to bring in prominent alumni from the Rice community from around the world in order to educate our students about the world of finance," Celaya said.During the talks, the next of which will take place in early March, students will learn how to succeed in interviews, how to network and how to use Rice as a vehicle for networking, Celaya said. In addition, the organization is working towards hosting a future trip to New York to take students on a tour of Wall Street to meet professionals in the field.This organization, in partnership with the School of Social Sciences, does not aim to lecture students but, rather, to provide them with an opportunity to connect with alumni and find out how to excel in their future jobs, Alvarez-Arango said.According to Alvarez-Arango, alums from around the country are expected to join Rice for an hour-long lunch seminar every month. These talks will be either in-person visits or Skype video conferences."We first found a need for this type of organization when both [Adrian and I] were looking for internships," Alvarez-Arango said. "Ryan Tull, a managing director at Credit Suisse, approached us because he noticed that Rice students are underprepared in such interviews when compared to other top universities. We spearheaded this initiative to improve Rice's community."Alvarez-Arango and Celaya hosted their first conference on Jan. 24 and invited Tull and Paul Arango, also a managing director at Credit Suisse, to speak at the event. Future seminars will be geared toward specific topics within investment banking.According to Celaya, each talk will last around 90 minutes, with an opportunity for students to interact with professionals during the reception. "We were very excited by the turnout for our inaugural event," Celaya said. "We had about 30 students attend who were genuinely interested and engaged in conversation."These talks are open to the entire Rice community but are aimed towards freshman and sophomores who are interested in finance, Celaya said. Wiess College freshman Ben Tour said he attended the series to learn more about investment banking."I came to the event because I didn't want to pass up the chance to learn from experienced individuals in the field who can teach me invaluable knowledge," Tour said. "The talk really opened my eyes to the world of finance and sparked my interest in sales and trading. The speakers gave a detailed explanation of the various aspects of investment banking and gave insightful tips on how to excel in [investment banking] and have a fulfilling career."

NEWS 1/28/14 6:00pm

News In Brief: Digital Media Commons relocating

The Digital Media Commons will be relocating from Herring Hall Room 129 to Fondren Library basement this summer, and the Center for Teaching Excellence and Program for Writing and Communications will be occupying the Herring space, according to Jane Zhao, Director of the DMC.

NEWS 11/5/13 6:00pm

Rice professors discuss inspirations at Scientia

In only 30 minutes, the attendees of the Oct. 29 Scientia colloquium gained insight into the ideas that have most powerfully influenced Rice professors. Students, faculty and staff were introduced to Rice University faculty members Erin Cech, Simon Fischer-Baum, Guseka Heffes and Andrew Putman and provided with an opportunity to appreciate the world in a different manner. According to Scientia Director Susan McIntosh, Scientia is an annual lecture series founded in 1981 and aimed at showcasing Rice's talents from a variety of perspectives.Will Rice College junior Petra Constable said her favorite speaker was Cech, an assistant professor of sociology, who spoke about the importance of culture in everyday life. Cech spoke about the power we give culture and the repercussions we voluntarily face if we break culture rules."Culture is a system of symbols and meanings and practices shaped by laws and institutions that help us make sense of our daily experiences," Cech said. "We follow [the rules it dictates] because it makes social situations less demanding .... If culture is real, it is real in its consequences."Fischer-Baum, an assistant professor of psychology, said he wanted to find out how the brain works by detailing the differences between our perceptions of reality."Every individual is as individual as a snowflake," Fischer-Baum said. "We all have six points. We all are made from the same stuff, but in the end, we are unique. We are all special ..., and in order to understand how individuals differ, we need to find our similarities."Heffes, an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, said irreverence between human culture is a key component of cultural innovation. "While many people, perhaps, would find [my condition] uneasy and even distressful, it gave me the great opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective," Heffes said. "I found myself, furthermore, thriving from emergence, since this geopolitical worldview allowed me to reflect on topics that otherwise I would have taken for granted."Putman, an associate professor in mathematics, said he found his field fascinating because it was impossible to define. "Mathematics uses the notion of a proof: a sequence of logical arguments starting with some set of agreed-upon assumptions," Putman said. "But this is not always possible. In fact, there exist simple statements that resemble exercises in high school algebra which are empirically true but cannot be proven."Constable said she thought the Scientia colloquium was riveting because of its brevity. "I loved the Scientia lecture series because it provides interesting lectures on scientific ideas that I would have never thought about on my own," Constable said. "It provides a glimpse of different disciplines that I would not have normally ever interacted with."

NEWS 9/11/13 7:00pm

OwlSpark Accelerator Program raises $313k

This past summer, the OwlSpark Accelerator Program raised $313,000 and provided mentors, office space, guidance and a structured program for nine companies with an average age of 14 months, co-founder Vivas Kumar, a Will Rice College senior, said.Kumar said the goal of the program is to increase entrepreneurship at Rice by engaging students in an accelerator program and providing them with space, funding, and access to a network of mentors and investors from the Houston area to achieve their goals.OwlSpark benefited from the voluntary efforts of over 120 professionals as consistent mentors to 37 students, Kumar said. Nearly 350 people attended the inaugural Pitch Day, showing the program's success, Kumar said."One of our companies just signed a huge deal with the IKEA Foundation and the [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees]," Kumar said. "Almost all of the companies acquired at least their first customer this summer."Co-founder Veronica Saron said the students who formed these companies will continue to work for their companies and will be mentored through ENGI 428: Entrepreneurship Independent Study, taught by temporary entrepreneur in residence for the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership Bryan Hassin (Lovett College '01).According to Saron, OwlSpark's goal is to teach students how to maintain and run a company in the real world."We hope that, because of OwlSpark, more Rice students will be comfortable with starting their own business," Saron, a Will Rice senior, said. "Our goal is to combine entrepreneurship conferences on campus and [increase] Rice's involvement in business."Saron said she believes the future of OwlSpark is bright. This coming summer, OwlSpark plans to have another accelerator program with a few modifications."OwlSpark plans to change the location of the [program] next summer to a nontraditional, open space on campus and to include a stipend for every student," Saron said.Kumar said he believes the program went smoothly due to the support of the university."The OwlSpark team and companies sincerely thank the wonderful people at [the] Rice Center for Engineering Leadership and Rice Alliance, the Office of the Provost and the university as a whole for continuing to support the strong vision for entrepreneurship in the future of Rice University," Kumar said.Wiess College junior Jennifer Ding, who participated in the accelerator program, said it was an excellent way to learn how to run a company. "There are so many ways we can change the world and create positive change," Ding said. "As Rice students we are equipped and empowered to implement this change, especially in our own community. That's really the essence of entrepreneurship - using what you have to make a change, leave an imprint on our world."

NEWS 9/11/13 7:00pm

Rice students selected for Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum

Two Rice University students were selected to participate in the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum, a program that allows students at American and Russian universities to meet, discuss, and work on policy proposals and initiatives together, according to senior lecturer of Russian Jonathan Ludwig.According to Ludwig, Jones College senior Rohan Shah and Brown College junior Irene Oh were selected to represent Rice University in this forum and will be the first Rice students to do so.Ludwig said the program was started at Stanford University in 2008 and has expanded to include more than 150 students from over 20 Russian and American universities.Ludwig said any student, undergraduate or graduate, from any major can apply to the program. He said participants are selected through a competitive application process conducted by Stanford. The ongoing program will last until April 2014."This program gives Rice students an excellent opportunity to play a role in policy formation with and concerning Russia and indicates that Russia is still a very important country in the world, both to work with and to keep an eye on, as we see today relating to Syria," Ludwig said. Oh said she was a Gateway Summer Fellow and previously worked in the Embassy of Korea in Kazakhstan during the summer. She said she is excited to represent the United States as a non-citizen."I am very honored to represent Rice in this bilateral forum," Oh said. "I think it will provide abundant opportunities to promote both in the U.S. and abroad how amazing our Rice community is."According to Oh, the program consists of three parts: the Moscow Conference, a collaborative research project and the Stanford Conference. Each student will be a part of a team comprised of two Russian students, two American students, a professional mentor and a student mentor, Oh said. Each project will culminate in a research paper on a policy recommendation.Shah, a previous Gateway Study of Leadership fellow, said he believes the forum will expand the impact policy makes in science."The Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum will allow me to further develop my knowledge and understanding of health policy and economics spheres while surrounding myself with like-minded, passionate peers from both the U.S. and Russia," Shah said. "I am excited for the prospect of working with my peers as I broaden my own worldview and understanding of creating effective and meaningful policy."

NEWS 9/5/13 7:00pm

Community Bridges marks third year in Fifth Ward

The Community Bridges Service Learning Program, under the Kinder Institute, is entering its third year since its conception and is expanding to include 40 students with nine nonprofit partner organizations from 20 students and six partners, according to program coordinator Mari Figueroa (Will Rice '12). In the past, the program sent students into Houston's Fifth Ward, which while culturally rich is economically poor, Figueroa said. Students work in a service project through nonprofit organizations in order to improve the Fifth Ward in some meaningful way. Accordingh to Figueroa, the fellowship has two components. During the fall semester, students complete the one-credit SOCI 469: Community Bridges Training, which teaches students about the theory behind current urban complications, and the four-credit SOCI 470: Inequality and Urban Life, which combines students' real-world applications with theory. In the spring, students work in their assigned nonprofit organization for five to seven hours per week.Figueroa said both courses will be taught by visiting professor of sociology Robin Paige, who came this year from California in order to coordinate this fellowship. According to Figueroa, Paige previously coordinated a similar program with over 300 students and hopes to accomplish the same here at Rice.According to Paige, the fellowship program is accepting applications from sophomores, juniors and seniors from any majors."We're looking for students who have the ability to go into new experiences with an open mind and solve problems creatively," Paige said.Figueroa said she got involved last year as a participant in the fellowship and is giving back to the program this year by coordinating. "Every person can make a difference," Figueroa said. "It is important to take that first step and start the ball rolling."Will Rice College junior Heidi Kahle, who participated in the program last year, said she believes it has changed her life. "For my final project, I set up a huge board in the center of Fifth Ward and wrote 'I wish the Fifth Ward was ...' on it," Kahle said. "By the second day, I [received] over 200 comments about how to improve Fifth Ward. Hopefully, [in the future] people will use these comments in order to better improve the community."Applications for the fellowship are avaliable begining Sept. 16 and can be found at kinder.rice.edu/bridges.

NEWS 8/28/13 7:00pm

Aetna audits added to health insurance waiver process

Rice University's student health insurance waiver process changed for this academic year, according to Director of Benefits and Compensation Elaine Britt.Like many higher educational institutes, Rice requires that all students have adequate health insurance. In order to guarantee that all students have basic health care, Rice asks all students to provide proof of existing coverage if enrolled. Previously, according to Britt, this process was managed internally by Rice. However, this year, the waiver process has been changed to include an electronic auditing system, which manages the insurance coverage and waiver processes."This option was more cost-effective when compared with adding internal resources to review the student health insurance coverage," Britt said. "Aetna has been the insurance company for the student health plan for a number of years, so it's important to understand that we did not change insurance providers."Aetna was selected to administer the waiver process by the Student Health Insurance Committee, whose members include students, faculty and staff. This method of auditing was chosen because it provides a more thorough check for all students,  Britt said."It ensures that all students have the health insurance coverage they need in the event they experience an injury or illness," Britt said. "In addition, since international health plans are so different and require so much expertise to evaluate, we didn't have the resources internally to determine if their health insurance met the compliance standards set by the U.S. government for their student visas .... [International students] now have the option of waiving out and [maintaining] the confidence that they are still in compliance with visa requirements."The site went live July 29, later than expected. Between July 29 and August 15, Britt said 1,681 students enrolled in Rice's Aetna student plan. In all, there were 4,094 approved waivers and only 189 failed waivers out of 5,964 attempts. According to Student Association President Yoonjin Min, the SA got involved when students complained about declined waivers and potential conflicts of interest. "Since Aetna makes more money when waivers are not accepted (because then, students will enroll in their insurance), they could be making the process intentionally difficult or cumbersome for students," Min said. However, Britt said there is no conflict of interest in this process because Rice still retains control of the waiver process. "Aetna is only administering the waiver process for us based on the criteria we have set," Britt said. "We can intervene at any time, and we are monitoring the waivers and audits daily."Brown College sophomore Spencer Seballos, whose waiver was initially denied and later accepted, said the entire process was unnecessarily stressful. "My health insurance, which is through my father's company, had not changed from last year," Seballos said. "The waiver last year was quickly approved without issue .... When I received the denial, I immediately wanted to know why this was rejected. Since nothing changed on my end, it had to be on Rice/Aetna's end."Seballos said he had to fill out additional forms to prove his health care coverage complied with the Rice requirements.McMurtry College freshman Minoti Kale said the process was smooth and easy to complete."After reading what some people on [Facebook] had written about the time and trouble it took for their waivers to get accepted, I really didn't expect mine to get accepted in a day," Kale said.

NEWS 8/28/13 7:00pm

Fall TV Previews

HostagesStarts Monday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. CDT on CBSWhen surgeon Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) and her family are taken hostage by rogue FBI agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott), Sanders is given an ultimatum: Kill the president and risk her career or save his life and let her family die. What's more, Dr. Sanders, who was already scheduled to perform surgery on the president, is told to make it look like an accident. According to creator Alon Aranya, this show is based on a never-produced Israeli show by the same creators.VerdictI would accept getting taken hostage by this new drama. How I Met Your MotherReturns Monday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. CDT on CBSIn this Emmy Award-winning show, we follow the life of Ted Mosby as he recounts his 20s and 30s to his kids. This season adds Cristin Milioti as a series regular, changing the cast lineup for the first time in nine years. Although this season may reveal itself in slightly haphazard flashbacks, the audience is in for the greatest reveal of the show: the mother to Ted's kids.VerdictAfter nine years, we're finally going to find out who the mother is. This truly is the mother of all shows. Brooklyn NineNineStarts Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. CDT on FoxAndy Samberg, class clown, is now a cop? Samberg plays the role of NYPD Detective Jake Peralta, a hipster cop who is told to grow up and "respect the badge" by his new boss. Combining a great cast and witty jokes, this show's characters will stand out  from every other cop show. VerdictDon't we all wish we could make our own rules? If I took Peralta's attitude, it would probably result in flunked classes and endless Netflix marathons. It might just be his attitude that makes this show. New GirlReturns Tuesday, Sept. 17 8 p.m. CDT on FoxJessica Day is an offbeat elementary school teacher who, after a bad breakup, moves into an apartment with three young men she's never met before: Nick, Schmidt and Winston. In this season of the returning Emmy-nominated series, we see our lovable gang in new adventures, including a run-in with the police, a romantic rendezvous in Mexico with starring couple Nick and Jess, and a peek into Winston's deep, dark past. VerdictJess may not be the newest girl on TV anymore, but this season will definitely not make her old news.  Modern FamilyReturns Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m.  CDT on ABCPremiseThis Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning series returns for another chance at breaking hearts, mending lives and turning upside down our definition of a family. This season promises a break in the family with the introduction of a new male nanny for baby Joe Pritchett-Delgado. Executive producer Christopher Lloyd describes the character as an energetic Midwestern guy who "doesn't want to just take care of the baby. He wants to sort of revive the entire household, which leads to some territorial clashes with Jay and Manny."VerdictThis big (straight, gay, multicultural, traditional) family can handle anything we throw at it.  The BlacklistStarts Monday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. CDT on NBCRaymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) is a government agent turned FBI's Most Wanted. When he surrenders himself in exchange for using his connections to hunt down mobsters, spies and international terrorists, the FBI turns upside down. The catch? Red refuses to communicate with anyone except Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a naive FBI agent who has yet to prove herself in the field. VerdictKeen needs to convince both herself and her colleagues that she can handle high-profile cases and take down Red's blacklist in order to survive in the FBI, but she won't have to convince you of her intelligence. This is one premiere that needs to be on your list. Boardwalk EmpireReturns Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. CDT on HBOWhat would you do with enough money and swag to make you king? Mobster Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, ruler of Atlantic City, New Jersey, knows exactly how to deal with mobster-rivals, corrupt politicians (is there another kind?) and inner-city gangs. Set in the 1920s, this year's season of Boardwalk Empire will start in February 1924 and introduce the newest threat to the delicate balance of power: Dr. Valentine Narcisse, the most powerful gangster in Harlem. Much like a war, it is hard to say exactly how everything will play out until the dust settles. VerdictFlappers, illicit booze and enough money to swim in? Count me in. Almost HumanStarts Monday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. CST on FoxSet 35 years in the future, Almost Human tells the story of a society in which crime is fought by not just humans, but also human-robot teams. When Detective John Kennex wakes up from a coma, he is forced to cope with prosthetic limbs, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, difficult work relationships and, of course, his android partner whose disability is that he is equipped with human-like emotional responses. This tale of a "good robot" is brought to you by J.J. Abrams and is unlikely to disappoint. VerdictWith a leading cast from Star Trek (2009), Friday Night Lights and Pirates of the Caribbean, Almost Human is likely to be a big hit-if it can displace fans from The Voice or How I Met Your Mother. 

NEWS 8/28/13 7:00pm

Architecture student Vivian Guan, 20, dies in train accident

Vivian Ziwei Guan, Sid Richardson College junior, 20, was fatally struck by a train around 8 a.m. on July 22 when she crossed the tracks while riding her bike at the intersection of Main and Walker St., and was pronounced dead upon EMS arrival, according to Vice President and Senior Press Officer of METRO Jerome Gray. She had just gotten off the northbound train and was struck by the southbound train at the intersection. The METRO Police Department is continuing to investigate the accident, Gray said.  An architecture major, Guan was employed as an intern at Ziegler Cooper Architects, where she worked with Rice alumnus Scott Ziegler (Master of Architecture '76). According to Ziegler, Guan was an enthusiastic, engaging and curious student, capable of finishing any task given to her."I knew from my first meeting that Vivian was on an important trajectory to do something special with her life because she cares about people and the world about her," Ziegler said. "She had a way with people that was so genuine, that she made you feel special, [taking on] each task with a sense of grace and dignity."Ziegler said that Ziegler Cooper Architects has renamed their annual scholarship to an outstanding Rice architecture student in honor of Guan."This scholarship will allow students, like Vivian, to travel the world and see with their own eyes how inspiring architecture can build a better world," Ziegler said. Will Rice College junior William Choi led a summer house church that Guan attended frequently. Choi said Guan started coming this summer and immediately integrated herself into the group."She had this quirky [and] unique personality that made you feel like you've known her for a long time, even if you only met her for the first time," Choi said. Sid Rich junior Henry Anderson described Guan as a kind, compassionate and boundlessly happy friend."The weirdest and most wonderful part is that so much of this was apparent when people first met her," Anderson said. "Unlike most people where you have to spend a few months getting to know them before you really see who they are at a very basic level, with Vivian you could tell after just a few conversations."According to Sarah Whiting, Dean of the School of Architecture, Guan went to elementary school in San Francisco and then moved with her family to Auckland, New Zealand, where she attended high school. Over the past two years, Guan helped design a toy museum, a single family home, a museum in Galveston and a winery, Whiting said. "Vivian was like a sponge, made entirely of optimism: absorbing everything around her and radiating possibility," Whiting said at Guan's memorial service held June 26 at Rice Memorial Chapel. "The tragedy that happened this week was having that possibility cut short."Guan's home church in San Francisco hosted a memorial service for her family and friends, Whiting said. Rice University, in conjunction with the Dean of Undergraduates and the masters of Sid Rich, are working to arrange a memorial open to the Rice community planned for Friday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. in the Rice Chapel with a reception afterwards at Sid Richardson College. McMurtry College junior Ellen Marsh said Guan has taught her to live creatively."During studio lectures, Vivian would make these tiny origami hearts or stars and tap you on the shoulder, have you close your eyes, and drop them in your hands," Marsh said. "I kept every paper gift she made, [and it] reminds me to think originally no matter what [I'm] doing."According to Marsh, Guan was highly involved in the Rice community. She often volunteered for working security for public parties as well as being highly involved in the Chinese Student Association and campuswide community service events including standing up for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Marsh said that Guan's true passion was in architectural events through RSA. In a campuswide email July 22, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson wrote, "We all extend our heartfelt sympathy to Vivian's family and friends. Please remember that it's important that we support and comfort one another as we grieve, and the Rice Counseling Center is always available to students for additional support."