The Sweetest Treat: 'Take the Cake' Annual Celebration of Fellowship Winners

Rice's fellowship winners bring sweet tooths to the annual 'Take the Cake' celebration

take the cake

The Rice community gathered together on Nov. 3rd at the Graduate Commons to celebrate Rice’s graduate student fellowship winners at the annual ‘Take the Cake’ event.

Take the Cake is an annual event the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) hosts to recognize graduate students who received a $5,000 fellowship or more. Students receive a cake of their choice for every fellowship they earn.

Seiichi Matsuda, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies, congratulated the honorees and acknowledged the effort and dedication they displayed to complete the fellowship process.

This year, 88 cakes were distributed to winners. Students were able to order from three local bakeries: Dessert Gallery, Sweets By Belen, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

“This was one of our largest and best Take the Cake events ever,” said Jennifer Hunter, assistant dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. “We are grateful for our partner bakeries and as always, look forward to celebrating the hard work of our graduate students and their incredible accomplishments.”

While the GPS staff and bakeries were excited about this event, the students shared even more excitement. Neethu Pottackal, a third-year Ph.D. student, experienced ‘Take the Cake’ as a guest in previous years but was an honoree for the 2022 ceremony.

“I was waiting on my email,” said Pottackal. “I knew the email was coming because I had friends who participated, but I was really excited and inspired to see that many people won a fellowship.”

First-year Ph.D. students Madelyn Castro, Gabriela Franco, and Gabriel Diaz were surprised this event existed but felt encouraged by it. “It was a very surreal moment,” said Castro. “Being at the event gave me a sense of community at Rice.” 

“This was a good reminder that I could succeed at Rice,” added Franco. “It felt really good to know that hard work really does pay off.”

The students said the event was an acknowledgment of their own accomplishments as well as an acknowledgment of everyone who was involved in the process.

“The recognition gave me more motivation,” said Diaz. “I felt that this is not just my achievement, but also Rice’s achievement.”