May 9, 2009
A generation of Rice student-athletes who led the Owls through the transition to Conference USA concluded their undergraduate academic careers on Saturday as 88 seniors received their diplomas during Rice's 96th Commencement on the Rice campus Saturday morning.
The day began early for the new graduates as they gathered with their coaches and other members of the Athletics Department for the annual Graduation Breakfast that was held in the Trauber Suite at Tudor Fieldhouse for the first time. They then joined their colleges for the procession onto the Academic Quad to receive their degrees.
Among the honorees were a pair of individual All Americans, pole vaulter Rachel Greff and swimmer Brittany Massengale and a pair of members of the Rice baseball team, Jordan Rogers and Jess Buenger, who returned to Reckling Park later in the afternoon for the Owls game with UCF. Overall, a total of 47 men and 41 women from Athletics received their diplomas.
During their combined careers, the graduates led the Owls to 13 conference championships and 11 NCAA tournament appearances, while also consistently ranking among the leaders in the NCAA's Academic Progress Report (APR) statistics. This past year, seven of the Owls 16 intercollegiate teams received the NCAA's Public Recognition Award by ranking in the top 10 among their peers in the NCAA's tracking of progress towards receiving a degree.
With their undergraduate careers coming to a close, the 88 Owls now set their sights on the next stage of their careers. In an informal survey prior to Commencement, 34 have indicated they have already entered the workforce or have accepted an offer of employment. Another 28 intend to pursue post-graduate studies in the next year. Ten graduates either have begun careers in professional athletics, or are pursuing opportunities to play professionally.