The medical school has now graduated more than 200 medical students, now physicians

  Saturday, May 4, 2024
  Health, Around Campus

By Saira Cabrera

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MAY 4, 2024 – Dressed elegantly in their black and green regalia, the fifth group of medical graduates from the UTRGV School of Medicine, Class of 2024, officially transitioned from medical students to doctors. 

The annual commencement, held at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus, celebrated the academic and professional journey of  52 medical students, triumphantly joining the more than 200 School of Medicine graduates who are now participating in medical residencies across the Rio Grande Valley, Texas and around the United States. Many are now practicing physicians.


UTRGV School of Medicine
This year's medical graduates overcame many obstacles to get to graduation and expressed amazement at the growth they all have made in the last few years. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)
In his remarks to the Class of 2024, Dr. Michael B. Hocker, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and senior vice president for UT Health RGV, said he is proud of the perseverance, commitment and hard work they displayed during their four years at the School of Medicine.   

"Class of '24, you are a testament to UTRGV's promise to train diverse and talented physician-scientists for the benefit of the Valley and beyond, a testament that what starts in academic medicine changes the future of medicine," he said. "Congratulations to you and your friends, your families, and all the champions who have helped you in your medical journey."  


Valley native and fourth-year graduating medical student Ruayda Bouls stood proudly in her medical regalia, smiling, and confident that the preparation she received at UTRGV will allow her to serve the community in which she grew up. 

"UTRGV has given me many mentors, research opportunities and clinical experiences, so I feel ready and excited for this next residency chapter," the Harlingen native said. "I am confident the UTRGV School of Medicine has prepared me to grow wherever I am planted. These next few years are a bit uncertain, yet exciting. Overall, I hope to one day practice in the Valley, to treat the same community I grew up in." 

Her words reflect the students' deep connection with the local community, a connection nurtured and celebrated at the UTRGV School of Medicine. The keynote speaker, Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, celebrated that sentiment. 

"Students, I encourage you to come back, to remember your whole community, the one that shaped you. Like me, you may fall in love with it and find it your life's work," she said.

The Class of 2024 is the fifth group of medical graduates from the School of Medicine. To this day, more than 200 medical students have graduated and joined residencies in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and across the country. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)
Ramirez is a professor and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences, and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

She is also founder of Salud America!, a network of more than 500,000 Latino participants. 

"Looking back over the years, I still love coming to work every day. I still love the ways we are reaching the underserved, saving lives and changing communities," she said. "That is the journey you all get to be on; that is the fight you all get to join. You have life-saving knowledge, and the skills to make a difference."


The medical graduates now head to their respective medical residency programs, as they enter a new chapter in their healthcare careers. 

"I'm grateful to have had my classmates to lean on over the past four years. We overcame major challenges and life-changing obstacles," said Breanna Jones.

In reciting the Hippocratic Oath – an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians – she noted the determination of her classmates.

"I've never encountered a more resilient group,” she said. “I am so proud of how far we've come and the places we will go!"

Dr. Leonel Vela, UTRGV senior associate dean for Educational Resources, division chief, and professor in the School of Medicine, commended the students as he led a round of applause for the Class of 2024. 

"We are immensely proud of all you have accomplished," he said. "The entire School of Medicine community applauds you as you pursue your journey toward practicing the art and science of medicine as compassionate physicians. Congratulations, Class of 2024." 


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.