Rice Emerging Scholars

What Is RESP?

The Rice Emerging Scholars Program (RESP) is an innovative, residential academic program designed to help first-year students prepare for the challenging pace, depth, and rigor of the STEM curricula at Rice. Unique among programs of its kind at highly selective institutions, RESP’s approach to college transition and success is comprehensive, combining a rigorous six-week academic summer bridge program with personalized and holistic mentoring and support for the duration of the college experience.

RESP’s mission is to ensure that students of high potential who attended under-resourced high schools, particularly low-income and first-generation students, persist, thrive, and graduate at the same rate as their peers, and that these students achieve their academic and professional aspirations as scientists and engineers.

RESP is designed to ensure that students who would most benefit from the program are not excluded due to cost. Accordingly, RESP Scholars attend the summer program at no cost and receive a stipend for their participation. They also enjoy a personalized array of mentoring and support services throughout their time at Rice.

In fulfilling its charge to help these students meet all the challenges they face, RESP comprehensively addresses their particular academic and navigational needs together with other challenges unique to students from underserved communities. And RESP stands with them from before they matriculate until after they graduate -- this is what it means to provide an environment in which students may “thrive.”

RESP Program Outcomes

Since RESP’s founding in 2012, nearly 400 RESP Scholars have achieved outcomes equal to and often surpassing those of other Rice students from more privileged backgrounds. RESP has reduced attrition from STEM majors significantly among our Scholars compared to similarly prepared students who did not participate in RESP: 79% of RESP Scholars completed STEM degrees compared to 60% of students in a comparison group and 73% of the background population. RESP Scholars graduate in four years at rates higher than those of other Rice students: for the 2015-2018 cohorts, 91% compared to 87% for all undergraduates.

How Does RESP Work?

Each May, a select cohort of freshmen newly admitted to the School of Engineering or School of Natural Sciences are invited to participate in RESP. Participation is limited to invited students. Students who accept the invitation to join RESP are expected to complete all components of the program, including meetings with staff and student mentors in the fall semester. In exchange, Emerging Scholars attend the program at no cost and receive a stipend for their participation. The summer program requires a full-time commitment and usually extends from mid June to August 1.

Participants in Rice Emerging Scholars Program are mentored by three professional staff members and a team of Student Fellows who excel in Math, Physics, Chemistry, and/or Computer Science. Student Fellows are responsible for facilitating the academic and social transitions of the Emerging Scholars during the duration of the six week program.

Why Support RESP?

Supporting these students’ aspirations and persistence in STEM is important for three reasons.

1) Rice is determined to shatter the commonly held perception that students from underserved communities cannot succeed in the technically most demanding majors.

2) America is falling behind in educating the number of STEM graduates the nation needs. The only way to meet the need is to improve access for students from diverse backgrounds, the fastest growing college-age populations in the country.

3) Rice is particularly well situated and equipped to help provide a pipeline of high-achieving and diverse graduates to fields where they can serve as role models for other young people. In this sense, RESP is important not just to Rice but to the nation.

To learn more about ways to support RESP, please click here.

Meet the Scholars!

Maryam Elizondo NIH Spotlight

RESP Alumnae Anecia Gentles and Audrey Odwuor receive prestigious NSF GRFP funding

Alumnae Karen Vasquez Ruiz and Carolina De Santiago's senior design project adapted for COVID-19

Ashley Gentles, Center for Civic Leadership Profile

RESP Alumnae Mekedelawit Setegne receives honorable mention for prestigious NSF GRFP funding

Unconventional Students at Rice: Jason Lopez

Unconventional Students at Rice: Louis Cole

Maryam Elizondo: Fulfilling Her Unlimited Potential

RESP in the News:

RESP Awarded NSF S-STEM Grant, Prepares Rice University Students For Their First Year

Rice, UT join effort to recruit more lower income students


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