Thursday, April 16, 2020

By Letty Fernandez

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Hector Filizola, a 2017 UTRGV graduate and one of Dr. Hugo Rodriguez’s former students in the UTRGV BMED Program, is in his second year of medical school at UT Southwestern in Dallas.

Students accepted into the highly competitive BMED program – under the Department of Health & Biomedical Sciences in the UTRGV College of Health Professions – are pursuing careers in the medical and health fields. And since March 23, students have been taking classes via online from their homes due to COVID 19 pandemic.

In mid-March, Filizola came home to Brownsville to wait out the pandemic. And while he was home, he reached out to Rodriguez to see how he could help.

 “We are not allowed to be with patients right now at the hospitals, so a lot of medical students are working from home. I am working on research for the next few months, but I have quite a bit of available time, more time than I would have had,” he said. “So I talked with Dr. Rodriguez asked him how I could help.” 

Rodriguez said Filizola reaching out to help came as no surprise.

“BMED is a family, and this is a good time to share with family,” he said. “It is nice when I get a phone call or a text message from our alumni, and more when they say, ’Let’s do this. How can I help – especially now, when we are dealing with COVID-19.”

Last week, Filizola, Marco Dominguez and Jose Mario Rodriguez, also UTRGV graduates now at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, held their first online meeting with 45 current UTRGV BMED students.

 The students had lots of questions for the UTRGV alums.

“I was in their shoes not too long ago. I know what they are feeling – anxiety, uncertainly and excitement as they prepare for applying to medical or grad school,” Filizola said. “It’s good for them to ask someone who has just gone through this. We want to provide guidance and serve as mentors.”

 In the coming weeks, the three alums will offer sessions on the MCAT entrance exam and the importance of making good grades, along with an online application workshop.

 Filizola says it is all important information for the BMED students moving forward. 

 “I am grateful to have the chance at this point in my career to practice hands-on what drove me to choose this career,” he said. “Being able to help others look to the future, to look beyond this current state of uncertainty, feels extremely empowering. And I hope they feel empowered, too, and look toward the future with hope and anticipation.”


The UTRGV Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences Scholars (BMED) provides students with strong academic support and learning opportunities to prepare them for a career path in the Health and Biomedical sciences fields. To learn more about the program, visit


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.