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Issue No. 5—Fall 2012
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Summer Mentorships Help Transform Students Into Leaders


Dr. Howard Scher (pictured middle) with students from Rice’s Summer Mentorship Experience (SME)

Each summer, a select group of Rice students are chosen by Leadership Rice to participate in the Summer Mentor Experience (SME), an initiative that combines academic learning with real-world experience. SME pairs students with executive mentors to do challenging summer work in a variety of industries.

One of the most enthusiastic mentors in the program also happens to be a Rice parent, Howard Scher, who is the chief of genitourinary oncology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and a parent of Rice students Jeremy ’14 (Duncan) and Isabel ’16 (Wiess). Scher first learned about Leadership Rice at Owl Day in 2010 and has been a committed advocate for the program ever since. We asked him to share a story of his first experience with a SME intern:

“Charles Dai ’12 (Wiess) had been an intern in my group at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer for all of a week when he confidently presented his project at our research meeting. His presentation was organized, insightful and forward thinking. The reaction from one of my peers was, ‘How do I get a Rice intern like him?’ 

“I have had interns from a variety of colleges working in my group for over two decades. Few have been as prepared to take advantage of the opportunity or have made as substantial an impact as the Rice SME interns. Their academic background, coupled with the training they receive from Leadership Rice, is truly an impressive combination.” 

Following his first summer as a mentor, Scher and his wife, Deborah, expressed interest in helping the program more broadly. At that point, Leadership Rice was hoping to launch the program in the San Francisco area.  Scher reached out to his biotechnology collaborators in the Bay Area, and within a month the program grew to include three outstanding organizations: Medivation, Exelixis and Third Rock Ventures. All were extremely impressed by their respective interns and have signed on for next year, and another alumnus, Rusty Williams ’71 (Will Rice), will be creating a fourth SME internship in the Bay Area next summer at Five Prime Therapeutics, where he is president and CEO.

This past summer, Scher took on another intern, Nathan Liu ’13 (Wiess), who made significant contributions to a project analyzing a particular therapy for patients with prostate cancer. Using a blood test that analyzes the genetic makeup of cancer cells circulating in the blood, he helped evaluate a treatment known to benefit one out of six patients.

We are grateful for mentors like Scher and their commitment to the next generation of leaders. To learn more about Leadership Rice or to find out how to contribute, please visit www.leadership.rice.edu.