New interactive tool will help connect Rice students with leadership opportunities

A new interactive tool developed by the Doerr Institute for New Leaders gives students a one-stop shop for finding the organizations that match their leadership needs and goals.

The Doerr Institute created the tool in response to students expressing a need for a Doerr Pathfinder adbetter way to navigate all the leader-development offerings on campus.

“Some students expressed that it took years for them to find out what all the organizations on campus were, where they were, how they were unique and how to get involved,” said Lillie Besozzi, the senior associate director for operations at the Doerr Institute. “What the students desired was a virtual personal assistant who could ask them a few questions about their experiences in high school, what they intended to study at Rice and what they aspired to do after graduation. Based on that information, the assistant would develop a tailored plan for the student’s development.”

Enter Pathfinder, a new interactive, text message-based chat bot that leads students through 10-12 questions about their background, interests and experiences and then generates an individualized, tailored set of recommendations for each student’s leader development at Rice.

Pathfinder represents collaboration among campus organizations that develop students as leaders, including the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, the Center for Civic Leadership, the Center for Career Development, the Young Owls Leadership Program, the Doerr Institute, Community Bridges, the Department of Athletics, WomenLEAD and Peer Academic Advising. The Doerr Institute oversaw the development and implementation of this tool based on the feedback from focus groups comprising current Rice students during the spring semester.

Rice’s Department of Athletics has been collaborating with the Doerr Institute to develop their student-athletes as leaders both on and off the field.

“What I like about Pathfinder is that it connects our students with all of the leadership opportunities available on campus,” said Stacy Mosely, senior associate director of athletics at Rice, who oversees the Office of Student-Athlete Development. “Our student-athletes have very busy schedules, and this tool will allow them to enter their personal information and have details about leadership organizations available at their fingertips.”

Mosely said she thinks the tool will really enhance the ability of student-athletes to connect with leadership resources.

“Pathfinder is very innovative, and I think once our students are introduced to it, they are going to enjoy seeing what opportunities are out there,” she said.

Daniel Pham, a McMurtry College sophomore, was one of the students who participated in the Doerr Institute’s focus groups about Pathfinder and served as a tester of Pathfinder during the development phase. He and fellow students offered feedback on what they liked about the Pathfinder and how they thought it could be improved.

“I think Pathfinder is a really good way to centralize different leadership groups at Rice,” Pham said. “It’s a one-stop shop for filtering out the type of leadership opportunities that would not be beneficial to you, and for targeting the things in which you are interested.”

He said he thinks the tool will be especially helpful for new students following O-Week, when they receive a lot of new information about leadership opportunities available on campus.

“I’m definitely excited to see where it goes in the future and how it affects people’s experience at Rice,” he said.

Allie Eggert, a Hanszen College sophomore, was another student who gave the tool a trial run.

“I think it is a very effective tool,” she said. “I enjoyed testing it out and look forward to exploring its recommendations for me.”

To use Pathfinder, prospective and current students can text “LEAD” to 713-636-5552. Text message rates apply.

For more information on the Doerr Institute, visit

About Amy McCaig

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