Monday, August 24, 2020
  Community, Around Campus

By News and Internal Communications

By Dimitra Trejo

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV’s School of Medicine and College of Health Professions in partnership with the Honors College are welcoming their inaugural Early Assurance Program students (EAP) this summer. Early in 2020, high-achieving incoming freshmen applied for one of the two new highly competitive EAP programs, Vaqueros MD and Physician Assistant Career Track (PACT). After a review and selection process, eleven students were selected for the inaugural cohorts.

The five students accepted to the Vaqueros MD 2020-2024 program and their respective high schools include the following:

  • Kaitlyn Ybanez -Edinburg North High School.
  • Shainah Vidal - James Nikki Rowe High School.
  • Isabella Rodriguez -UTRGV Mathematics and Science Academy.
  • Caleb Mata - Robert Vela High School.
  • Ronald Shaju -UTRGV Mathematics and Science Academy.

Through Vaqueros MD, the students will have access to pre-med academic advising, guidance through four years of undergraduate studies with an emphasis on preparing for medical school admissions, and are conditionally accepted into the UTRGV School of Medicine for the incoming class of 2024.

In addition to the five Vaqueros MD students, six students were also accepted to the UTRGV Physician Assistant Career Track (PACT) Program.

PACT is also an Early Assurance Program with a goal of increasing the number of South Texas high-achieving students who enroll and complete their Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree at the UTRGV College of Health Professions (COHP).

The six PACT students admitted to the PACT 2020-2024 program and their respective high schools are:

  • Maely Martinez – South Texas High School for Health Professions.
  • Dante Marquez - Achieve Early College High School.
  • Rebekah Modesto – Homer Hanna Early College High School.
  • Jhoana Rivera-Ramirez – Hidalgo Early College High School.
  • Megan Solis – Preparatory for Early College High School.
  • Dorysa Rivera – Preparatory for Early College High School.

Rivera, graduate of Hidalgo Early College High School and incoming PACT Program student says she is ready to take this next step in her journey to becoming a physician assistant.

“Being accepted into the Honors College and the PACT program helped me realize how much effort I have put into my academics and community these past four years of high school,” Rivera said. “Also, it has made me realize the importance of my teachers and counselors. Thousands of Valley students now have the opportunity to study at a great university with many distinguished programs. Having this opportunity so close to home gave me the courage to apply and commit to the PACT program.”

Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs says these programs and future EAP programs at UTRGV are dedicated pathways from high school to health professions for South Texas students who rank at the top of their class and commit to stay close to home.

“We are extremely excited to jointly announce and welcome our inaugural classes of Vaqueros MD and PACT students,” Krouse said. “We know these students have dedicated time and effort to excelling in their high school careers in order to participate in our programs. They have set themselves up for career success and we are honored to provide them the opportunity to continue their education. This would not be possible without the dedication of our UTRGV faculty and staff as well as the high school counselors who are committed to seeing their students succeed.”

The Early Assurance Programs are open to high school seniors, in thirteen South Texas counties, who are interested in applying to UTRGV and have an interest in attending medical school or other health-related professional programs after earning their undergraduate degree.

The programs will open for applications on an annual basis. The next competitive online application period will re-open on October 1,2020 for incoming class of fall 2021. Prospective students are urged to begin preparing now if they have an interest in one of the programs.

A complete list of application criteria is available at and Applicants must first be accepted to UTRGV and

For more details about the programs or to learn more about the different health professions, contact or  



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.