Finding her place
“I like to think Rice chose me,” said freshman Frelicia Tucker, who entered Rice this fall as a QuestBridge scholar. The program matches low-income, high-performing students with some of the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities. Tucker’s upbeat approach to her Rice education is a continuation of her accomplishments as a high school student.
The South Carolina native was named a Wendy’s High School Heisman National winner, an award given annually to the country’s leading male and female scholar-athletes. Recipients are judged on their academic and athletic accomplishments and the national award comes with a trophy and a scholarship. Tucker, the valedictorian of her high school class and a champion tennis and track and field athlete, was an obvious choice for the prestigious award. Winning also gives her a spot on the committee that chooses Heisman winners in the future.
With a full scholarship to Rice, she’s planning to major in chemical engineering and is looking forward to the upcoming track and field season.
“Our first meet is right after Christmas,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’ll do the hurdles this year.”
Tucker said that she enjoys the challenge of balancing her school work with her athletic meets and practices. Running track and field, she feels, gives her more control over her own schedule, allowing her to run and work out in the weight room when it works best for her, before or in between classes. The sometimes individual nature of the sport also pushes her to excel, she said.
“You have to bring your A game on meet days,” she said. “Because it’s not just about what you do, individually; your score helps your team. And I love the people on the team – they push me to grow.”
Growth, in fact, has been a driver for Tucker during her freshman year. She likes the rigorous nature of Rice’s program, but she also said she’s needed to seek out assistance in classes, such as French, and take advantage of her professors’ office hours to make sure she’s understanding key concepts.
“The thing that attracted me to STEM is that I like to see the way things come together, beyond just a series of equations,” she said. Tucker is currently looking into research opportunities for next semester and beyond.
“High school gave me a firm foundation,” she said. “And being here at Rice, with these incredible students, definitely gives me an incentive to get better.”