Remote Owls nest amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rice parents help students acclimate to learning from home

Rice University’s sense of community, from its residential colleges to its many traditions, is legendary and usually one of the first things students fall in love with after setting foot on campus.

But now that the Owls are nesting at home for remote classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rice’s parents have stepped up to help make their students’ workspaces as warm and welcoming as possible. Below is a collection of photos of students in their makeshift classrooms and comments from the parents who love them. (Comments have been edited for clarity and length.)

Jennifer Clark, Houston:

“My Owl (economics major Isabelle Clark ’22, Jones College) in her new Rice space. I now consider myself a college dean!”

 Photos of Rice Owls studying at home.

Lupita Balderas de Chavez, Spring, Texas:

“Here is a picture of Anilu (Chavez, ’21, Wiess College, majoring in neuroscience) in her new home classroom! This is a bittersweet time for me; I am so happy to have her home, but I also feel so sad regarding how her study life has changed so suddenly and how much she will miss her roommates, friends and professors. Now besides being her mom, I will be her roommate and her ‘servery’ friends as she calls them. I enjoy listening to her Rice stories while we eat together and it makes me realize how lucky she is to be at Rice University; it is certainly an unconventional place to be.

“This picture was taken the second day of online school, because I did not want to bother her the first day as I knew she was a little overwhelmed on seeing how everything was going to be. So on the second day she had her first class of the morning, and I went to her ‘classroom,’ knocked on the door and opened the door to ask her if I could take a picture. She was stunned and she kept telling me that everyone is listening and seeing me! I was wearing my pajamas and my crazy hair so she was very embarrassed to have the rest of the class see me. She said, ‘Would you imagine walking in to my classroom at Rice in your pajamas?’ Yet, she quickly silenced her microphone, turned and smiled at me as I leave the room. I felt embarrassed, I was clueless on how the class was going to be.

“When her class ended, here she came downstairs a little upset on how I disrupted. But then one of her classmates sent her a text with a video of me crashing the class, and we both started laughing and her classmates all told her that it was so funny. Although I learned my lesson, I am so happy that I could bring a smile to her classmates and make their first French 312 remote class one to remember.”

Pilar Ungo Torres, Corpus Christi, Texas:

“Here are a few pictures of my son Eric Torres (’21, Wiess College, majoring in bioengineering).

“He wanted to dress up for his first day of online classes, so he only wore a shirt, tie and suit jacket on top and just shorts on the bottom (he thought no one was going to notice).

“Here is Eric, working hard in his room on a different day.”

Kim Bacchus, New York:

Bacchus shared the following tip from her daughter, Kamryn Bacchus-Larode, a Jones College freshman.

“Create a routine for yourself and get in the habit of working from a desk, not your bed. Both of these things will promote a more productive work environment.”

Marnie Mast, Austin, Texas:

“This is Hayden (Mast, ’22, McMurtry College, majoring in applied math and economics) learning at Rice University … ranch style!

“We’re finding silver linings each day having him back home with us and his younger brother. We’re grateful for getting a little insight into his daily academic life and current internship even in these significantly altered circumstances.

“I think one of the main things we’ve discovered over the past two weeks is that we all have to respect each other’s schedules. Hayden is still on a college schedule with odd hours and may study until 3 a.m., whereas we and his younger brother get up early in the morning.  We all have jobs to do at home and for work, and school is his work. It’s important he be an integral part of the family and spend time with family while living at home, but equally important to stay in touch with friends and reach out to professors to stay connected and maintain that beloved Rice community feel. It’s not perfect, but it’s working and we know we’re lucky.”

About Amy McCaig

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