The Sallyport Award is presented by the Association of Rice Alumni (ARA) to an undergraduate and/or graduate degree candidate who shows great promise in carrying forth the ARA’s mission of providing a continuing relationship between the university and its former students.

The ARA recognizes individuals who have demonstrated one or more of the following:

  • Campus Involvement: Displayed loyalty, spirit and pride in the university through meaningful involvement in programs and activities.
  • Rice Connections: Fostered strong ties with classmates, faculty or other members of the Rice community beyond their college or department.
  • Community Engagement: Strengthened the bonds between Rice and the Houston community or other communities outside of Rice.

If you know a graduating student who deserves to be honored with the Sallyport Award, please submit a nomination.

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Sallyport Award

Meet the 2023 Honorees


Mario Escobar ’23


Mario Escobar ’23

During his time as a Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology program at Rice, Mario Escobar presented research at various national and international conferences, was lead author or co-author on four manuscripts, led a provisional patent and secured funding from the American Heart Association. Mario also led a research collaboration with peers in Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Beyond his outstanding research skills, Mario served as an exemplary leader within the Rice community. As the President of the Graduate Student Association, he provided invaluable guidance and direction to the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic and as students returned to campus. Additionally, he served as a dedicated mentor to undergraduate students and fellow graduate students, volunteered his time to train and maintain equipment for Rice’s Shared Equipment Authority, and participated in outreach events.



Catherine Lee ’23 (Will Rice)

Catherine Lee ’23 (Will Rice)

While an undergraduate student at Rice, Catherine served in multiple leadership and service roles, seeking to engage with communities on campus and beyond. As a member of the Patient Discharge Initiative (PDI) at Rice, Catherine volunteered weekly at Ben Taub General Hospital. She also served on the Outreach Committee of PDI, where she organized a panel to discuss health care accessibility for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Having hosted multiple prospective students, Catherine served on the Overnight Host Matching Committee of the Student Admission Council. As a part of the Rice Health Advisors (RHA) Program at Will Rice College, Catherine led several events promoting wellbeing and promoted cross-college collaboration events.

Her work as programs director earned her the Tsanoff Outstanding Junior Award, and she was awarded the James A. Castañeda Outstanding Senior Award for her service as Internal Vice President of Will Rice. Additionally, Catherine served as a member of Riyaaz, Rice’s premier co-ed Bollywood Fusion dance team, and is a former president of Rice Vibe, a club dedicated to mentoring middle school students at KIPP: Connect Charter School.

Past Honorees

See past recipients of the Sallyport Award and read about their accomplishments.

Full list

Sallyport Award Honorees
2021 Sallyport Award honoree Chloe Oani '21
Know a student deserving of the Sallyport Award?