Graduate student Rosa Selenia Guerra Reséndez talks Fulbright, living in Houston, and the welcoming community of Rice University.
When I chose to start my doctoral studies, I wasn’t overly concerned about the difficulties that characterize graduate school. I was more concerned with the fact that I was going to a whole new country, with a foreign language and no one that I knew. However, I was not alone. Even though COMEXUS, the Fulbright Program in Mexico, provided me with feedback and advice during the application process and a grant to fund my first years of grad school, I think the most valuable thing that Fulbright gave me was the opportunity to meet new interesting people and open my mind to different perspectives and cultures. One of the best networking experiences I had was meeting with Dean Seiichi Matsuda during my first Fulbright event in Mexico City.
Prior to this event, I was told that a representative from Rice University was attending. To expand my knowledge of potential universities, I researched its graduate programs. To my relief, Rice had a program and faculty members that were within my research interests. I started to look more into the university and was delighted to find out that the campus is in Houston, TX (close to my home country, Mexico) and that they provided a full tuition waiver for the Ph.D. program that I was applying to. During my talk with the Dean, he invited me to present my thesis project at GCURS (the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium, being held again on Nov. 2, 2019), and I received a travel award from the symposium.
No other university had opened their doors and given me the chance to get to know their people and facilities like Rice University did. I knew that Rice University was the best choice for me since it had all that I needed to achieve my goals for the future: a Ph.D. program that fit my interests, friendly people whom I could trust, and the perfect place to represent my culture and share it with others. The Fulbright Community at Rice University has been the ideal place to implement this last goal while enriching my experience with the other perspectives from fellow Fulbrighters at Rice.
Being in an environment surrounded by people who want to contribute to their home countries and the local community in Houston with their research and work keeps me motivated to reach my own goals as well. Through all of this, I am still able to feel a strong connection to my roots by engaging in the Latin American Graduate Student Association, which has supported me since the first day that I moved to the United States by providing me advice and connections to people which have eventually developed into strong friendships.
Fulbright and Rice University have allowed me to develop as a human being by the value of cultural exchange, all while providing a high-quality education so that I can excel in my field.
Rosa Selenia Guerra Reséndez is a Fulbright-García Robles Doctoral Scholar and president of the Latin American Graduate Student Association at Rice University. She is a second-year graduate student in the Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology program, advised by Dr. Isaac Hilton, and in 2017 earned her B.S. in Genomic Biotechnology from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.