Shelby Bice wins Layton Scholarship

Shelby Bice, Rice University CS senior.Shelby Bice, (CS, Visual and Dramatic Arts ’19), is one of the winners of this year’s Phil Layton Scholarships. The scholarship is awarded annually to engineering students who have made significant contributions not only to their engineering studies, but also in the visual or performing arts.

Bice said it takes sheer force of will to combine both areas of study.

“Even before I came to Rice, several people discouraged me from trying to pursue a dual degree in visual and dramatic arts and computer science, and that continued after I arrived at Rice. I totally understand where they were coming from. Computer Science and Theatre are both incredibly time-consuming and sometimes draining passions. It takes a lot of perseverance to keep up with both,” she said.

“Many times I’ve been in full costume sneaking in quick fixes to coding projects while waiting for my next cue to go on stage. I would be lying if I didn’t say there have been times during my Rice career that I’ve become very discouraged while trying to balance both Computer Science and Theatre, but at the end of the day, I really wouldn’t change anything. I don’t think I would have gotten the position I accepted at Palantir if I hadn’t had both my technical skills and my experience in the arts,” Bice said.

The blend of computing and the arts helped Bice acquire leadership skills.

“Working in theatre has taught me a lot of hard-won lessons about leadership and cooperating with other people that will only help be become a better software engineer. On the flip side, thinking critically has also come in handy with theatre, especially theatrical forms like improv where you constantly have to be thinking on your feet,” Bice said.

During her years at Rice, Bice served as one of the coordinators of Rice Players. She was involved with seven visual and dramatics arts productions. She has directed and acted in shows at McMurtry College, her residential college. Bice also served as one of the social coordinators for CSters, a women in computing student club at Rice. She hopes to continue to combine her artistic and computing skills in the future.

“I’ll move to D.C. after I graduate to work for Palantir, and I’ve already begun scoping out theaters where I would like to try to work in my spare time. Whether that’s volunteering as an usher, working in their costume shops, performing on stage, or even lending some help with any software-related issues they have, I plan to try to be as involved as I can. Additionally, I love writing, especially plays, and I hope to have more time to do that after I graduate,” Bice said.

The Layton Scholarship endowment was established in 2006 by Rice Engineering Alumnus, Phil Layton ’85. The scholarship is awarded to a junior, senior or fifth year engineering major who has demonstrated involvement in the performing, visual or written arts.

Shelby Bice matriculated at Rice University in fall 2015.

–written by Cintia Listenbee, Communications and Marketing Specialist in Computer Science.