Friday, March 15, 2024
  Around Campus, Accolades

By Saira Cabrera

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MARCH 15, 2024 – An almost silent buzz filled the the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex in Edinburg on Friday as nervous fourth-year medical students awaited to open their Match Day letters.

The hushed atmosphere quickly transformed to jubilant cheers as 52 medical students from the UTRGV School of Medicine discovered their placements at medical residency programs throughout Texas and the United States.

“Today is a big deal,” said Dr. Michael B. Hocker, senior vice president for UT Health RGV and dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. “Today is a day unlike any other in the life of a medical student; it's a day that means a step closer to becoming a physician.”

Match Day, a pivotal occasion within the medical community, is a National Day of Transition for fourth-year medical students, who open and read their letters from the National Residency Matching Program. The program pairs graduating students with available medical training positions across various healthcare systems nationwide.


This year's Match Day is number five for the academic medical institution – with nearly 200 successful matches since 2015.

Thirty-one of the students matching from the Class of 2024 this year will stay in Texas for their residencies, of which four will remain in the Rio Grande Valley.

Many of these medical students wish to practice locally in programs sponsored by the UTRGV School of Medicine in partnership with area hospitals and clinics. 

utrgv match day
Ed Alvarado, from Brownsville, celebrated his match to the otolaryngology residency program at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. He said ENT-Head and Neck Surgery is a field that has intrigued him since he discovered it. He said it lends itself to fascinating surgeries that can make significant changes in the quality of life for patients. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

"UTRGV has given me mentors, research opportunities, and clinical experiences that prepared me for this next residency chapter," said fourth-year medical student Ruayda Bouls, a Valley native from Harlingen who matched to UT Health Science Center in San Antonio for internal medicine. "These next few years are a bit uncertain but exciting. Above all, I hope to practice in the Valley to treat the same community I grew up in." 

Students also matched with programs across the state that included UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas A&M-College Station and UT Austin Dell Medical School in Austin.

Those leaving the Valley will cross the country to California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.  

Among these, UTRGV medical students matched into 20 residency specialty programs including neurology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and urology. 


"Today is just the beginning," Hocker said. "Hard work has been at play for the last four years, culminating in today. Finding out where you're going to train, what specialty you're training in, and where you will spend the next three to seven years is exciting. Today, your hard work has been rewarded." 

match day 2024 utrgv
Match Day 2024 brought together 52 fourth-year medical students from the UTRGV School of Medicine and close family members to celebrate the momentous milestone. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

This class will graduate in May, but until then, they know where they will be headed after graduation.

"Class of 2024, I join the entire UTRGV School of Medicine family in acknowledging the dedication and hard work that has prepared you to participate in what is unequivocally one of the most important and memorable days in your journey to enter the medical profession," said Dr. Leonel Vela, senior associate dean for Educational Resources and division chief/professor in the School of Medicine.

While students rejoice in their hard work and success on Match Day, those who helped guide them along the way also celebrate this new generation of resident physicians. 

"You all are on your way to representing the UTRGV School of Medicine in your desired residency training programs, both near and far," Hocker said. "Know that you are a testament to the talent found in the Rio Grande Valley and an example of our promise to expand healthcare to our region and beyond. We will always remember and root for you wherever your medical journey takes you."

Ramiro Oquita Saenz, from Brownsville who also matched to UT Health Science Center in San Antonio for internal medicine, celebrated today with words of encouragement to his classmates. 

“Class of ’24, it doesn't matter if you matched to your first choice; what matters is that you matched and are on your way to becoming a physician,” Oquita Saenz said. “Congratulations, and best wishes wherever you are heading.” 

utrgv match day 3
Match Day 2024 marks the fifth celebration for the UTRGV School of Medicine since it opened its doors in 2015, with nearly 200 successful matches to date. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)


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.