Why I Volunteer: Akilah Mance ’05

In what roles have you volunteered for Rice?

50th Celebration of Black Undergraduate Life, Chair; ARUBA Chair (previously served as Student Relations Committee Chair); Association of Rice Alumni, Board of Directors; Annual ARUBA BSA Career networking events; 90-second thesis competition judge; Rice Athletics Career Networking Event volunteer;  individually met with several undergraduates regarding careers in the law; member of RULA and RAVA; and Rice Centennial volunteer.

Why do you volunteer for Rice?

I volunteer for Rice because Rice has given me so many tools for success and I want to give back to make sure the university continues to thrive. I loved my time at Rice and I want to make sure the experience is as rewarding, if not more so, for current students. As a student, I didn't really feel a connection to alumni (except those young alumni who were upperclassmen while I attended Rice). I truly believe alumni can help with the educational, personal, and career growth of students by being a part of their Rice support system. As alumni we are living proof that students can make it through Rice and will be successful in whatever field they choose. On the other hand, alumni are able to share with the next generation of students and positively impact our collective future as a University community and a society. For alumni we can also be re-energized in our own lives by seeing the hope, enthusiasm, and brilliant curiosity of current students. We have a huge role to play!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at Rice?

I love contributing to the ideas that are shaping the University and I love the energy and inspiration that working with students brings. When I work with students I see myself many years ago and I try to think of the advice and assistance I needed. It's also really fun to see how bright and passionate students are because it inspires me to be more motivated in my own pursuits.. Lastly, volunteering with Rice puts you around so many brilliant young people, faculty, staff, and fellow alumni that you can't help but feel like you can change the world; after all that is why we all came to Rice.

Regarding the 50th [anniversary], I am enjoying celebrating the alumni and faculty who sacrificed so much to change Rice for the better, at a time when change was very difficult. To see their faces and sincere appreciation is truly humbling because I know they never imagined the University would honor them in this way.

What's a fun Rice fact about you?

I was an O-Week professional. I loved everything about Jones O-week and I immediately signed up to be an advisor. At Jones, we had a game called "Big Booty"... it has nothing to do with the title. Essentially you go around in a circle, keeping the beat, singing your assigned number before passing it off to an unsuspecting fellow participant. I just remember us dancing around (particularly my advisor), singing in random voices, and taking the competition so seriously. It was a blast and I was a champ many times over.

The other fun fact is that I was always on TV whenever our men's basketball games were televised. I went to every game to cheer on my brother and it helped that we all had prime seating behind the bench, where I was constantly yelling and holding up pretty clever signage for ESPN and FOX Sports.

Why should others volunteer for Rice?

I appeal to the Rice community to volunteer for two main reasons: 1) Rice has given us all so much and we are truly obligated to pay it forward by giving back to Rice in some way. To whom much is given, much is required 2) Rice attracts the most intelligent, talented, passionate and innovative minds from across the world and we have a unique opportunity to positively impact people who will undoubtedly change the world. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that process?

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