TeKisha Rice is an Auburn University Honors College Alumna pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with aspirations to attain a tenure-track professor position at a research university. Her time as a student in the Honors College encouraged her to pursue meaningful research and engage in critical discussions about a variety of social issues, transforming her career trajectory. TeKisha has picked up several exciting hobbies since she was at Auburn, let’s read more about her to find out.
Name: TeKisha Rice
Degree: M.S. (held); Ph.D. (in progress)
Graduation Date: 2015 (AU); 2020 (expected)
Current Title: NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Current Employer: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
What brought you to the Honors College at Auburn University?
I had taken honors courses in high school and was interested in doing the same throughout college. Initially I was interested in the prestige that came with being affiliated with the Honors College but I soon learned there was much more to be gained. I stayed in the Honors College because of the ways it uniquely enriched my learning experiences while at Auburn. I was encouraged to pursue meaningful research and engage in critical discussions about a variety of social issues. Enrolling and remaining in the Honors College was one of the best decisions I made during my undergraduate career.
How did your Honors College experience shape your career path?
The Honors College is one of the main reasons I became involved in undergraduate research which transformed my career trajectory. When I initially learned of the undergraduate thesis I thought it was interesting but was unsure whether it was for me. With the encouragement of mentors, I completed the honors thesis and presented the findings at a national conference. My experience with undergraduate research and the honors thesis steered me towards graduate school and a career in academic research. Completing the thesis gave me a level of preparation for graduate school unmatched by any other undergraduate experience. My undergraduate honors thesis became my first peer-reviewed publication.
What advice or insight do you have for future and current Honors students?
My best advice would be to get uncomfortable! Push yourself to do things even when you aren’t sure you will succeed. Believe your mentors when they tell you that you’re ready for something new or more challenging. Growth occurs just outside of your comfort zone so reach out to that professor, write that paper, and apply to your top choices of jobs and schools. Nothing is beyond your reach with a little hard work, but be sure to take care of yourself too.
What are your future career goals?
My future career goal is to attain a tenure-track professor position at a research university.
To date, what is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment would have to be attaining my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. While at Auburn I actually applied for the Rhodes and Mitchell national prestigious scholarships. Although I did not receive these, the process helped me refine my research interests and writing skills which greatly contributed to me completing a strong application for the NSF GRFP.
If you received a scholarship, how did that impact your time at Auburn University?
I received multiple scholarships during my time at Auburn, however, it was only in my senior year that those scholarships added up to cover the full cost of tuition. Scholarships lessened the financial burden associated with college. I was able to complete my degree at Auburn because of financial support from many donors!
Any fun facts or hobbies we should know about you?
I’ve taken up a few hobbies since starting grad school – things I’ve always wanted to do. My favorites have been an adult gymnastics class and a women’s boxing class!