Fireworks lit up the sky over Lovett Hall and the Sallyport the night of Aug. 13 as the incoming Class of 2027’s first day of O-Week culminated with Rice’s annual matriculation ceremony.
Following a lively day of introductions, the group of eager new students heard a slate of speeches from university leaders that marked the official beginning of their experiences as members of the Rice community.
“Each of you is beginning an educational experience that will immerse you in a culture of discovery, inquiry and creativity across an array of academic fields, and in tandem with a diversity of peers and faculty from whom you will learn and grow,” Provost Amy Dittmar said in her opening remarks. “And by joining a community of scholars actively engaged in research and the creative process, you are now a part of an environment where new ideas, scientific discoveries and artistic works are created.”
President Reginald DesRoches then addressed the 1,140-strong class, noting how they represent the most selective group of incoming freshmen in Rice history – 8% of the 31,056 people who applied to the university.
“Your class, like every other class that has entered the university since 1912, is special,” he said.
“In four years, or perhaps five, you will be handed a piece of paper that notes you have satisfied all of the requirements for a Rice degree. That alone will open many doors for you and is indeed extremely valuable. What is even more valuable will be the memories and experiences you have outside the classroom that will forever influence how you think, feel and act.”
DesRoches also celebrated the diversity of the class, 32% of whom are from underrepresented minority groups, while another 13% are international students. In all, the students represent 53 states and territories and over 47 countries.
“While we are proud to have a community that is reflective of the diversity of Houston, the most diverse city in the country, we are equally proud of the environment of inclusion that we have created at Rice,” he said. “Our differences are not just tolerated, they are celebrated as a core strength of our institution.”
Solomon Ni, Rice Student Association president and a junior at Jones College, gave the student address. He emphasized the importance of valuing one’s lived experiences.
“You’re sitting here because of the breadth of experience you all bring to the table,” he said. “And you might not exactly know what that is yet – sometimes I’m still figuring that out. You all have the capacity to think outside of the box and a mentality that is, dare I say, unconventional.”
The final speaker of the night was Tania Min ’90, president of the Association of Rice Alumni. Min explained to the young students that Rice provides the opportunity to examine what is important to them and to be able to confidently finish the sentence “I love [blank].”
“Some of you probably already have a good idea about what you love,” she said. “Others may never find that. But with Rice supporting you, you have a better chance than most. The true gift of your admission to Rice is the opportunity to find and flex that love with a like-minded community.”
As is tradition, the night concluded with a march through Lovett Hall’s Sallyport. The newly minted Owls were surrounded by their cheering upperclassmen advisers as they made their way through the archway alongside their respective colleges, ready for whatever challenges await them. After graduation, they’ll walk back the way in which they entered, symbolizing the conquering of these challenges.
“All of us at Rice are thrilled you are here and are excited to embark upon this transformative journey with you,” DesRoches said. “I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of this incredible day. May our journey ahead be filled with success, happiness and fulfillment.”
Rice O-Week participants are encouraged to include #RiceOWeek23 on their posts, videos and tweets. For a full schedule of O-Week events, click here.