BY JENNIFER L. BERGHOM
EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has officially welcomed its #FirstClass of 55 students to its School of Medicine, with a first roll call and full day of orientation.
Students got instruction on using their new iPads, sat in on information sessions, and were fitted for the white coats they will receive next month at the formal White Coat Ceremony, a longtime medical school tradition that welcomes new students.
The 55 students were selected from among 2,784 applicants for admission to the UTRGV medical school.
UTRGV School of Medicine interviewed just 226 applicants and ranked 182 of them for admission into the medical school. Those applicants, as well, ranked the medical schools they visited for interviews. The medical school and applicant rankings were then sent to a national matching service to match the schools with the applicants.
Dr. Francisco Fernandez, founding dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, said the medical school was meticulous in finding the right students to be a part of this inaugural class.
“These new students may have committed today to us, but that commitment is mutual,” Fernandez said. “As part of a university family, as part of the Rio Grande Valley community, and as part of an ever-changing world of challenges and needs, we in turn commit our resources, our expertise and our dedication to helping them succeed as the physicians of the future.”
Of the 55 chosen for UTRGV, 20 are from the Rio Grande Valley, comprising 36 percent of the inaugural class. Fifteen are from Hidalgo County and five are from Cameron County.
The first cohort includes 12 graduates of UTRGV and its legacy institutions, The University of Texas-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville: two from UTRGV, two from UTB and eight from UTPA.
Of the remaining students, 30 are from other parts of Texas and five are from the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and Maine.
Betty Monfort, UTRGV School of Medicine’s senior assistant dean for Admissions and Enrollment Management, said the medical school administration is extremely happy with the list of applicants with which it was matched.
“This is a bright, energetic group of students and we can’t wait to guide their journey to becoming physicians,” Monfort said. “We are so pleased with the diversity represented in this class of 55, and we value the broad range of experiences and viewpoints it brings.”
The first class has 24 students of Hispanic ethnicity, comprising 44 percent of the class, 16 Caucasian,eight Asian/Indian, six African American and one American Indian.
In total, there are 28 women and 27 men accepted into the School of Medicine.
Included in the first class are about a half dozen non-traditional students, including military veterans, those who earned other graduate degrees, and those who worked in other health care-related fields and decided to pursue careers as doctors, Monfort said.
The White Coat ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 23, 2016, at the Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus.