Fifteen South Texas high school graduates were recently accepted into the Pre-Medical Honors College, a cooperative program between The University of Texas-Pan American and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
To celebrate, the incoming freshmen attended a meet-and-greet session June 22 at the Renaissance Hotel in McAllen. Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., senior vice president and dean for Academic Operations at Baylor College of Medicine welcomed the students and presented each one with a medical dictionary.
"Congratulations to you; you will do well I promise you," Garson said. "Baylor is a very fun place to be in spite of the toughness; the faculty really cares. We hope you get educated and come back (to the Valley)."
Incoming freshmen to the Pre-Medical Honors College Program include Susan Edionwe of McAllen; Crystal Renee Garza and Natalia R. Maani of Edinburg; Charisse Lloren and Maria De Jesus Salinas of Mission; Amanda Aguilar, Gregory Kerr and Elizandro Muñoz III of Harlingen; Maria Arminda Rodriguez of San Benito; Elizabeth Ann Rocha of Brownsville; Tatiana Cordova, Jose Luis Diaz-Morin and Jessica Ann Hudson of Laredo; and Elvia Martinez and Jigar Patel of Corpus Christi.
Joining Garson at the welcome were Dr. William Thompson, Baylor College of Medicine Center for Educational Outreach director; Dr. John Villarreal, interim dean of the UTPA College of Science and Engineering; and Cindy Wedig, Baylor Pre-Medical Honors College Program coordinator.
The eight-year program offers conditional acceptance to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduation from UTPA. The partnership was established in 1994 to increase the number of primary care physicians in the medically underserved area of South Texas.
"In the state of Texas, the average number of physicians per 100,000 patient population is 225," Wedig said. "That number for Hidalgo County is 98. We are in desperate need of medical professionals."
This year, more than 120 South Texas high school seniors applied to the program. Since 1994, more than 50 UTPA students have graduated from the program and more than 40 are attending medical schools at Baylor and nationwide.