LEAP to reach out to younger students
By Katya Soto
Bridge contributing writer
Published Wednesday, May 5, 2021
One plan to expand TAMIU’s Laredo Early Acceptance Program includes reaching out to freshmen. The goal of this program is to ease students’ transition to University of Texas Health.
Introduced in 2017, LEAP was bought to life by then pre-medical adviser Hector Gonzalez. Since then, it focuses on aiding eligible sophomores in continuing their education at UT Health after Texas A&M International University graduation.
So far, five students from the local program study at UT. Three more recently received acceptance and five are working toward that goal.
“I am hoping that we are going to expand it,” Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Biology and Chemistry Michael Kidd said. “One of the challenges for us is that the vast majority of biology and chemistry majors self identify as pre-med, which is wonderful, but there’s a lot of avenues for people who are interested in health-related careers. This program is one of them.”
Going forward, UT Health hopes to receive 25 TAMIU students a year. Since this allows for growth, talks include expanding the program to other degrees including medical doctor programs.
“We’ve been targeting mostly sophomores [and] juniors to apply to the program but we’re seeing that sometimes it can be a little too late, so we’re going to try to relay the information to freshmen, explain what the program really is about and also educate them on occupations,” TAMIU academic success coach Gloria Perez said. “That way, once they have minimum hours and they fully qualify to apply, they know exactly what they’re doing. I think that’s one of the plans we can definitely implement for Fall 2021.”
By beginning recruiting earlier, LEAP officials expect it to grow beyond its present state. They also plan to offer new programs in the near future.