Rice seniors cherished final semester spent with friends


Rice students at this year’s Class of 2021 senior gala took time to reflect on an undergraduate experience that was interrupted in a way no one could have imagined, yet filled with moments of both growth and joy.

“I was a remote student last semester and I came back this semester not knowing what to expect,” said Martel College senior Denizhan Yigitbas, who admitted he thought pandemic restrictions such as mask rules would make for an equally restrictive, un-fun senior year. “But I came here Feb. 15 and since then, I will say that even this semester has been one of my favorite semesters so far.”

Yigitbas, an electrical engineering major, roomed with new people and made a whole new group of friends in the process. He echoed many seniors in his emphasis on how forming relationships such as these have been vital during his time at Rice.

Lovett College senior Jonathan Ubalijoro, a computer science major who’s heading to work at IBM after graduating, had never been to Texas before coming to Rice.

“I made so many great friends my first year; I was so welcomed,” he said. “I feel like being able to carry those relationships forward through Rice and being able to have those relationships I can look back to is something that I will always cherish.”

Martel College senior David Karngba was glad for the chance to return to campus for his senior year as well, especially knowing that this was his last opportunity to enjoy spending time with his friends before graduation sends them all scattering into the world beyond Rice.

“I think that one of the things COVID really taught me over the course of the past year is you never know what’s going to come next, so definitely cherish every moment you have,” he said. “I feel like I made some great, lifelong friends here in my time at Rice, so being able to enjoy these last moments with them has been really nice.”