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Students Aspiring Toward Health Care Careers Eager for New Medical School

Robert Arreola, 16, a junior at The University of Texas at Brownsville’s Mathematics and Science Academy, enjoys doing ride-alongs with his father Ronaldo Arreola, a firefighter and paramedic.

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 28, 2014Robert Arreola, 16, a junior at The University of Texas at Brownsville’s Mathematics and Science Academy, enjoys doing ride-alongs with his father Ronaldo Arreola, a firefighter and paramedic.

Dr. Francisco Fernandez, founding dean for the The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's School of Medicine meets with UT Brownsville Mathematics and Science Academy students Michael Flores, Anjel Villafranco and Principal Wilma Smetter.

“It’s a good feeling helping other people,” said the young Arreola of Brownsville.         

His father’s work fighting fires and assisting people in need has inspired the younger Arreola to someday attend medical school and become a trauma registered nurse.

“I was planning to go to one of the heath science centers here in Texas,” said Robert Arreola. “But now I have this option at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.”

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will be created by the merging of UTB and The University of Texas Pan American and open in fall 2015. A new medical school will open as part of the new university in fall 2016.

Arreola and some of his MSA classmates along with students from the Associated, Professional Relevant Integrated Medical Education – Transformation in Medical Education initiative in the Department of Biomedicine in the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions heard from the newly chosen leader for the medical school.

Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa, was named earlier this month as the medical school’s founding dean. He visited Harlingen, Edinburg and Brownsville on Wednesday, Feb. 26 to meet students, staff members and faculty.

He officially starts work on Monday, April 28.

A reception welcomes Dr. Francisco Fernandez, founding dean for the The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's School of Medicine.

“I think it is critically important that the people who train here will provide service to the people of the Rio Grande Valley and will provide opportunities for others to come to be part of this family,” said Fernandez.

Anjel Villafranco, 16, a junior at MSA from Brownsville, aspires to be a surgeon. He is still deciding where to do his undergraduate and medical academic work.

“It seems like he knows what he is doing,” he said. “He seems he has been preparing for an opportunity like this. I’m sure he will build a team way beyond the 18-month deadline (before the university opens in fall 2015). I am sure he will hit the ground running.”

Samantha Olvera, 19, a freshman biomedical major from Brownsville and a graduate of the Brownsville Early College High School, said she is interested in learning more about the medical school’s course and degree offerings, research opportunities and hospital residencies.

“I like his (Fernandez’s) plan to train students and have them give back to the community,” said Olvera.

For more information on UT RGV and the medical school, click here .​​

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“It’s what we do every day as mothers and fathers, and it’s what we should do as stewards of a university to make sure that the next generation has a better quality of life and better access to opportunities than we had.”
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