Graduates with honors, now enters UTRGV School of Medicine

  Friday, December 16, 2022
  Around Campus

By Karen Villarreal

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Some students sacrifice hobbies to focus on their college classes, but 18-year-old Jake Lanoue says it’s important to balance academics with fun. That’s how he avoids burnout.

At UTRGV, he leaned into activities with the student group Club Esports  – hosting and commentating on Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournaments and playing on their Overwatch team– while he maintained a 3.92 GPA.

“Burnout is not something you want to experience. It kills your grind,” said Harlingen-native Lanoue, who co-led streaming efforts for the esports club. “School is very important, but have some fun with it. Hobbies help a lot.”

Lanoue graduates with honors on Friday, Dec. 16, from UTRGV’s Vaqueros MD Early Assurance Program, which selects a limited number of high-achieving area high school students to begin their undergraduate career and receive conditional admission to the UTRGV School of Medicine upon graduation. Lanoue applied for the program when he was in high school at the UTRGV Math and Science Academy, and fulfilled the program requirements as an undergraduate.  

He will walk the stage in Edinburg to accept his Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a focus on biological sciences, and has been accepted to the UTRGV School of Medicine for Fall 2023.

His goal is a career in neurosurgery. 



He will start medical school in August 2023, and that fulfills a lifelong goal inspired partly by his parents, who are ultrasound technicians. 

“I’ve had medicine around me for quite some time,” Lanoue said. “I would read some of my dad’s papers when I had free time.”

In high school, he pursued his interest in science at the UTRGV Math and Science Academy, where he had the opportunity to work on a soil ecology research paper with UTRGV biology professor Dr. Pushpa Soti, and a master’s student, Orlando Garcia.

“I recently found out it was published,” Lanoue said. Being listed as a co-author on that paper motivated him to continue doing research – though his own focus is on the human brain.

“The research that’s being done in neurology is really interesting and I want to contribute to that,” he said. “I want to do more work and get more papers published.”



Lanoue said he chose the Vaqueros MD program to get a head start on his plans.

“I want to start practicing medicine as soon as possible, so I didn’t go for a master’s degree because it would delay my start in medical school,” he said.

The Vaqueros MD program requires participation in the UTRGV Honors College – which was no problem for Lanoue.

“I always wanted to graduate with honors,” he said. “I felt it would show I was committed to my academic career.”

After three and a half years of proving his commitment to academics – balanced with esports – Lanoue plans to relax for a few months before the challenge of medical school begins.

His family wants him to celebrate this milestone with a big party or vacation, he said, but he’s saving that moment for when he graduates with his white coat.

“That’s the one that matters to me,” Lanoue said. “This is just another step on my path – I want to get to the end!”

The UTRGV Fall 2022 Commencement will be a two-day event beginning in Edinburg on Friday, Dec. 16, and ending in Brownsville on Saturday, Dec. 17.

To watch the ceremonies, live online, 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.