Alejandra Medina began her experience in the medical field at a young age. Her aunt, a nurse practitioner in the home health field, would take her to various assignments she had. Medina also has been caring for her grandparents.
"I want to be a nurse," said Medina, a Brownsville native. "I like to help people get better."
The Hanna High School graduate chose The University of Texas-Pan American to earn a degree in nursing so that she could receive a high-quality education that is close to home.
UT Pan American welcomed Medina and more than 3,000 other first-time college goers - the largest incoming class in the institution's history -to campus Aug. 23-25 to their new home at its third-annual Bronc Round Up. Held right before the start of the academic year, Bronc Round Up is a three-day orientation that helps these students transition from high school to higher education and educates them about the University's customs and traditions.
Edna Zambrano, associate dean of students, said the University created Bronc Round Up to provide more information to students that wasn't covered in the orientations held earlier on campus, specifically information about how to manage their time, develop good study habits, and to acquaint them with the many services and student involvement opportunities available to them.
To further help students, the University provided them with an app that included information they would need to navigate through the orientation, and a map of the campus for them to learn their way around their new home.
" I want them to feel confident that the University, that UTPA, was the right choice for them," Zambrano said. "I want them to know that we're here for them, that the University, all of our services, all of our staff, are here for them... I hope they leave on Sunday with a sense of what being a Bronc is all about."
UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen greeted the newest members to the Bronc family Friday morning, telling them about alumna Elcira Bermudez (BS '04), who came from humble beginnings to becoming an engineer at Raytheon and receiving the company's Woman to Watch Award in 2011.
"That's what you can accomplish if you dream, if you take risks if you try to be different and succeed," Nelsen said. "Pan Am is a marvelous place, it is a place that will change your lives. It'll make you different but you have to get involved."
Students also heard from motivational speaker Aric Bostick, as well as from UTPA Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Martha Cantú, Dean of Students Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin and from Student Government Association President Aaron Barreiro and Vice President Eric Sanchez.
Several of UTPA's newest Broncs said the festivities on campus made them feel welcome.
"I like the energy," Medina said. "It feels like they want you here."
Cassandra Garcia, ranked in the top five percent of graduating class at Edinburg North, described her first session of Bronc Roundup as fun and is looking forward to a couple of changes college life brings.
"I am looking forward to the freedom and not having class every single day," said Garcia, who plans to pursue a nursing degree.
While fearing somewhat the difficulty of college coursework, she said she was inspired by the motivational speaker the thousands of students heard from in the morning convocation.
"He said go for your dreams and never give up. And don't let where you came from define who you are, and whatever you want to do, go after it," she said.
Heriberto Lopez, who graduated from IDEA-Edinburg, said he chose to attend UTPA for several reasons.
"As a Valley person, I am more accustomed to being at home, it is cost efficient and I can see my family when I want to. Also, my uncle told me that this place is really good in criminal justice," said Lopez, who hopes to join the U.S. Marines after college and then pursue a career with the Border Patrol or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
He found the presenters at the morning session "energetic, outgoing and fun" and said he is looking forward to being more independent and making decisions on his own.
"I think I am going to like it here," he said. "I have great hopes for this coming year."
See more of the Bronc Round Up festivities in this photo gallery.