Graduate Owls flock to GSA picnic

Rice University’s new graduate students took time out for some burgers and hot dogs and mingling with their fellow classmates at the annual Graduate Student Association (GSA) cookout at Valhalla Aug. 21. The gathering was held in conjunction with the graduate student activities fair and was one of several events planned to orient the new graduate students with Rice.

The picnic and other orientation activities are a great opportunity for the new students, said Goat Domeracki, president of the GSA.

“It allows students to not only see the various activities and clubs that we have here at Rice, but it’s also a great chance for them to enjoy some food, interact with graduate students from different departments and learn more about the GSA and other opportunities available to them on campus,” he said.

Domeracki credited GSA orientation coordinators Anne Hellebust, Lynn Fahey and Debshila Basu Mallick with the week’s success. “They’ve done a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s been really well run.”

Rebecca Gu, a new graduate student studying viola performance at the Shepherd School of Music, said she was excited to be at the event. “It’s a great opportunity to meet all the new graduate students — not just those from music, but all of the different departments at Rice,” she said. “I’m excited to see how I can get involved on campus.”

Lizanne Koch, who will be pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry, said the campus environment is what attracted her to Rice. “I’ve gotten very good impressions from all the graduate students I’ve talked to. They say they love it,” she said. “I’m really excited to start my work.”

Desmond Schipper, who is also studying chemistry, said that he first visited Rice in high school and noticed that the environment seemed absolutely wonderful. He said that the barbecue and orientation activities have made him feel very welcomed.  “It’s just a great place,” he said.

For more information about graduate student activities at Rice, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.