Students ‘Take the Cake’ in GPS’ largest award ceremony to date

Two million calories in cake were distributed at the annual celebration of fellowship winners

Students descend on their award cakes in the Grad Commons for GPS' Take the Cake

On Nov. 11, Rice graduate students descended on the Graduate Commons to consume roughly 2,000,000 calories worth of cake - the sweet reward of their hard work and determination. 

When graduate students win major fellowships, the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) awards them a cake of their choice at an event known as “Take the Cake”.  

“We want to celebrate all of our graduate students who have applied for fellowships and recognize those that have worked hard on applications,” said Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. “Their effort has not gone unnoticed.”

The annual event was delayed three times since spring 2020 due the ongoing pandemic, and GPS was thrilled to finally distribute awards in person, so students could share in cake, fellowship and tacos.

“Due to the pandemic affecting the U.S. in the Spring 2020 semester, we postponed our Take the Cake event to November 2020,” said Kim Gonzalez Hohlt, Director of Student Advancement and Career Development. “Little did we know that event wouldn’t happen either.”

Gonzalez Hohlt developed a grab-and-go Take the Cake event this past spring, where students could pick up a cupcake but ultimately be awarded their cake at a later date. With three semesters of award winners, Nov. 11 was the most extensive cake distribution GPS had ever organized.

“This year, ​​we bought 98 cakes for students who attended our in-person Take the Cake event,” said Gonzalez Hohlt. “We had never done an order this big, so we let students choose from four bakeries: Dessert Gallery, Sweets By Belen, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Sara the Cupcake Girl,” she said. “It was so crazy that one bakery had to rent a moving truck to deliver the cakes we ordered.”

Because some students have graduated and moved away, Gonzalez Hohlt is working on ordering cake for them, wherever they are in the world, with 30 cakes shipped internationally.

“After delaying our congratulatory cakes for over a year, it was wonderful to see their excitement in sharing their cakes to finally celebrate their accomplishments among friends,” Gonzalez Hohlt said.


Photo by Aidan Gerber