Unconventional students at Rice 2018: Empowering kids who ‘are just like me’

Nehemiah Ankoor had never heard of Rice University until his high school guidance counselor told him it checked all the boxes on his college wish list. “My freshman year was a blast,” he said. “It was a totally new experience for me.”

After a rough second fall semester, Ankoor withdrew from Rice for one year.

“I came back and took my first sociology class and it just completely changed my outlook on everything,” he said. “I felt like sociology was my calling.”

The next fall, Ankoor had another rough semester and withdrew for three years.

“Going back, I felt kind of disgraced,” Ankoor said. “I had really good familial support. They kept me focused on getting back to Rice when I was mentally and physically healthy enough to come back.”

He never wavered in his interest in sociology and began working with the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program when he returned to Rice again.

“I’m working with these young men that come from similar circumstances as me – who are just as promising and can do amazing things if they just have that one-on-one mentorship relationship,” he said.

After graduation, Ankoor plans to teach high school in his hometown of Springfield, Ill.

“It’s funny because I used to think that my Rice education was my ticket out of Springfield, and now that I’ve gone back and come back and gone back, I see that it’s my ticket back to Springfield to help the community that helped me to be who I am,” he said. “I want to help empower kids that are just like me.”

About Brandon Martin

Greetings, I am a video producer at Rice University in the Office of Public Affairs. I became a Rice Owl in June 2011. Before that, I was at KPRC-TV in Houston as a special projects photojournalist for seven years, where I covered everything from hurricanes to sports. Southeast Texas has been my home my entire life. I am lucky to have a wonderful wife and two of the cutest girls I have ever seen. Go Owls!