Houston, Texas (KTRK) – Jamila Mensah, a former track athlete at Rice University, is still talking about her alma mater.
“Rice is something that we all wear with great pride,” Mensah explained. And she means it, right down to her owl accessories.
But Jamila, a Westfield High School produce from Houston, says she wouldn’t have had the chance to walk the trails at Rice had it not been for the people who carved a path decades before her.
“This is useful in a way that carries the torch but gives these individuals their brilliance and interest,” Jamila noted.
End of this week , Rice will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 class, the first college class to feature black student athletes: Rodrigo Barnes ’73, LeRoy Marion ’72, Mike Tyler ’72, Stahlé Vincent ’72. Three of these four pioneers played football. To honor them, the owls will wear ’70s-inspired throwback helmets in their game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, September 17.
Mensah, president of the Rice University Black Alumni Association, says the celebration is important for a university where roughly a tenth of the students are black.
“Historically, with the black population in Rice, so many of us have been student athletes, and it’s a very special and very unique experience,” Mensah said. “It’s great to be recognized in this way, in front of all these people.”
Mensah will be among the people cheering for Rice this weekend, not just because of what happens during the match.
“The faculty and staff are more diverse than ever – as are the students,” Mensah said of her university. “We, more than any other organization I think, truly embody the idea that a diverse population generates positive outcomes, success, and experiences for everyone.”
In addition to celebrating the first black male student-athletes, Rice will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Law Nine. In doing so, Owls will honor Denise Bostick ’80 and Leila Freeman ’79, the university’s first black female athletic student.
Rice will commemorate the transformative role the six student-athletes played in the university’s history at the first Black Student-Athlete Celebration on September 16 at ion (401 Main Street)
The event opens with a cocktail reception at 6:30 pm and an honoring ceremony at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $50 per person or $25 for the Rice guys.
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