Rice’s Class of 2022 moves to campus

The first Rice University shuttle full of new Owls arrived on campus Aug. 12 ahead of the sun. At 6:30 a.m., a group of 15 international students from Denmark, France, China and Singapore stepped off outside Duncan College. O-Week had officially begun.

Each incoming class of freshmen begins its Rice experience with a weeklong orientation, O-Week for short, that introduces the new students to the campus, culture, colleges and their classmates. Registering for classes and learning about policies is only part of the O-Week package; what makes an Owl orientation truly special is the friendly greeting by upperclassmen who wait at each residential college to greet arriving freshmen and their families with chants, cheers and a helping hand.

“All the planning we’ve done since November is coming to fruition,” said Duncan junior Louis Cole, one of the many O-Week coordinators who spend months planning themes and events for the incoming freshmen and memorizing their names, hometowns, hobbies and other details. Making the new students feel at home and welcomed is their No. 1 goal, Cole said.

Lovett sophomore Nimisha Krishnaswamy stood nearby with fellow sophomores Kelly Park and Sarah Kim, holding signs and cheering loudly as each incoming Owl arrived. Last year, Krishnaswamy made a 24-hour journey from India to begin her studies at Rice and remembers feeling immediately embraced by her fellow students.

International students were the first to arrive on campus Aug. 12 outside Duncan College. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

International students were the first to arrive on campus Aug. 12 outside Duncan College. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

“It’s nice to give them the same warm welcome so they feel at home,” she said.

Inside Duncan Commons, Monya Singh smiled as she watched her son, Mantej, join a queue of students lined up to receive room keys, O-Week T-shirts and other vital information. The Singhs arrived in Houston five days ago after a 22-hour flight from Singapore, finding the tropical weather familiar and the gregarious greeting as anticipated.

“It was so much fun,” said Mantej, who plans to study neuroscience. “I’m awake now!”

The Singh family learned about Rice from a former classmate, but a visit to the campus sealed the deal for Mantej.

“He found the culture and the environment here very different, unconventional — and he is the same — so he said, ‘It suits me!’” Monya said. “I’m sure he’s going to have a great time. He has to fly now; it’s his time.”

Ace Castillo and his family drove from Corpus Christi, where Martel students quickly unloaded their truck. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

Ace Castillo and his family drove from Corpus Christi. (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

Outside Martel College, the Castillo family arrived in a truck packed with both family and furniture for their son Ace, the first of their children to leave for college. Mom, dad, little brother and little sister had all joined the road trip from Corpus Christi to see off Ace, who was one of Texas’ top high school cross-country runners.

“I’m a little apprehensive letting go of our first one but we’re excited,” said dad, Eddie. “It feels like home here.”

Having already met his Rice track teammates and coaches, Ace was ready to tackle O-Week next. “It’s a lot of information being thrown at us but I’m ready to take it all in,” he said.

The sun was shining over Wiess College by the time Chance Allshouse arrived with his family, father and Rice Board of Trustees member J.D. Bucky Allshouse ’71 and mother Cynthia. Bucky Allshouse, a former defensive back for the Rice football team and 1990 Rice Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, is known to erect a 14-foot-tall Rice Owls Christmas tree each year.

“Rice has been my life,” said Allshouse. “It’s always been there for me.” That love for Rice has bloomed in his son, too.

"Rice has been my life," said J.D. Bucky Allshouse, whose son Chance followed him into Wiess College. "It’s always been there for me. It’s always been a home away from home even after I graduated." (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

“Rice has been my life,” said Bucky Allshouse, whose son Chance followed him into Wiess College. “It’s always been there for me.” (Photo by Tommy LaVergne)

“This is basically home,” said Chance, a member of the Rice track and field team who is following his father into Wiess College and hopes to follow him into law. “I’m so happy to be here.”

Because most of his on-campus experiences have been related to sporting events, Chance said he was excited to explore a whole new side of Rice — and Wiess. “I’ve never been inside the community like this and been a part of it this way.”

Inside a narrow stairway at Sid Richardson College, a red-shirted O-Week welcome crew worked with cheerful efficiency to move suitcases and small refrigerators from the trunks of arriving cars and into the commons for transport up to the students’ rooms.

Sid Rich junior and O-Week coordinator Chris Yum directed traffic with sunny energy and a smile for each new face that flew past. During a brief pause in the midst of the commotion, the Sid Rich senator explained why O-Week was so important to both him and to the students he was welcoming to their new home.

“As somebody who’s moved around a lot, the one question I’ve had a hard time answering is, ‘What’s your hometown?’” Yum said. “For me, Rice is the first place where I can definitively say, ‘This is home, and this is where I fit in.’ It was a life-changing experience for me.”

#RiceOWeek18 -- Move-in

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.