Wednesday, July 11, 2018
  Announcements, Alumni

By Jennifer Berghom

Rio Grande Valley, Texas For Alejandro Aquino and Adriana Saavedra – both of them first-year UTRGV medical students and Rio Grande Valley natives – the first day of orientation for medical school was a dream come true.

“It’s a great addition to the Valley,” said Saavedra, an Edinburg native who earned her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies from Brown University in Rhode Island and returned to the Valley to attend medical school. “I know it took a lot of investment to make it happen. I’m just very grateful for all their hard work.”

Aquino, who grew up in Pharr and earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University in North Carolina and his Master of Public Health from Texas Tech, said he wanted to attend the UTRGV School of Medicine because it is an opportunity to contribute to the development of the new school. 

“I want to help the school make a name for itself at the state and, hopefully, national levels,” Aquino said.

Aquino and Saavedra are two of the UTRGV School of Medicine’s 56 newest students who began their three-week orientation on Monday, July 9, at the UTRGV Medical Education Building on the Edinburg Campus.

The Class of 2022 is made up of 52 Texas residents who have matched, including 14 students from the Valley, further strengthening the School of Medicine’s ties to the community. (One of the School of Medicine’s key priorities is to contribute to the education, recruitment and retention of physicians in the Valley and the rural communities of South Texas.) Four candidates are from out of state, some with strong ties to the Valley.

“With this latest class, the UTRGV School of Medicine continues its commitment to educating the next generation of passionate physicians who are committed to improving the health of the community and closing gaps in access to care across the Valley,” said Dr. John H. Krouse, executive vice president of Health Affairs for UTRGV and dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. “I am confident that the Class of 2022 will bring new talent, and will join our current two cohorts in blazing the trail for medical education opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley.”

The 56 were selected from more than 4,100 applicants for admission to the UTRGV School of Medicine. Of those applicants, the School of Medicine interviewed 360 potential students.

The Class of 2022 has an average MCAT score in the 74th percentile nationwide, a grade point average of 3.5, and an average BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) grade point average of 3.4.

Students entering the Class of 2022 also come from prestigious institutions throughout Texas and the nation, including Baylor, Duke, UT Austin, Emory, Rice, Stanford, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, among others.

The demographics of the Class of 2022 include 28 percent Hispanic, 26 percent Asian and Asian Indian, 17 percent African American and 30 percent White/Caucasian.


Orientation culminates with the White Coat Ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at the Performing Arts Center at Harlingen CISD.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation started the White Coat Ceremony in 1993 to welcome new medical students to the healthcare profession. About 97 percent of medical schools in the United States today, as well as schools for other healthcare professions, perform such ceremonies, which serve as a rite of passage for medical students. Each student, carrying a white coat, walks across the stage and the school leadership helps them don the white coat for the first time.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.