Grace Morgan had a lot on her plate. On top of dealing with the demands of the computer science curriculum, the sophomore was playing on the women’s volleyball team, where she had been named a Conference USA Player of the Week.
Rice students often find themselves juggling a full load of academics and activities, but Morgan’s experience earlier this semester taught her that she wanted a different academic focus. She liked computer science, but wasn’t passionate about it. So, she switched her major to statistics.
“I had taken several of the courses required for the major while I was pursuing computer science,” she explained. “So, it made sense to take the full leap, especially since I like math and I really enjoyed the coursework I’d done.”
Morgan is thinking about a career in data science and is looking forward to taking classes in that concentration as she progresses through the statistics curriculum. Already, she said, changing majors has made a difference: she feels happier and less stressed. But she still has the challenge of balancing academics with athletics. As a middle blocker on the volleyball team, she’s in practice and workouts — not to mention playing in matches — more than 20 hours a week. She’s the only engineer on the team. Morgan said that the sport has been useful in helping her master time management.
“Volleyball really gives you a work ethic,” she said. “It gives you this competitive mindset, where you want to do you best. That’s part of why it took me three semesters to change my major; I kept pushing myself to do better. But the sport has helped me take that passion for getting better and channel it into my academics.”
She said that volleyball has also helped her develop leadership skills and a crucial ability to work with people toward a common goal.
Morgan came to Rice from Louisiana, from a high school she said “was in the middle of nowhere.” (She’s from Crowley, about 50 miles east of Lake Charles). She knew she wanted a school where she could continue to play volleyball, and where the academics would be top-notch.
“Rice really was the best of both worlds, with Division I athletics and top-tier academics,” she said. “I’m challenged here in a way I wasn’t in high school — both on the volleyball court and in the classroom.”
Holly Beretto, Rice Engineering Communications