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A&M-Texarkana Biology Majors One Step Closer to Realizing Their Dreams

Published: February 19, 2016

Biology Majors One Step Closer to Realizing Their Dreams Image

Kaylee Marcella Loeza, Brenda Awuah and Dr. Nurul Alam

Thanks to a program created by the Texas Legislature to encourage highly qualified Texas students to pursue a medical education, Texas A&M University-Texarkana biology majors Brenda Awuah and Kaylee Marcella Loeza are one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming pediatricians.

 Both students were accepted into the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) in their first year of application—Loeza in 2015 and Awuah in early February of this year. Each went through a rigorous admissions process that included an application and personal interview with the selection committee.

 Funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, JAMP is a unique partnership between nine medical schools and 67 public and private four-year undergraduate institutions in Texas. The current Legislature reserves 10 percent of the seats available in each entering class for JAMP students.

As of May 2015, JAMP had sent more than 500 students to Texas medical schools; 242 have graduated. Ninety-seven percent of JAMP medical graduates were matched with residency programs, primarily in internal medicine and family practice.

 For the 2016 JAMP entry year, more than 500 students were recommended by undergraduate institutions to apply for the program; 356 completed the application process. After a rigorous evaluation process by a committee established by the JAMP council, 186 applicants were selected for face-to-face interviews at Texas medical schools. From this application and interview process, 100 students from 37 undergraduate institutions succeeded in joining JAMP.

“It’s great to have a 100 percent success rate in our first two years of participation in JAMP,” said Dr. Nurul Alam, associate professor of Biology and JAMP faculty director at A&M-Texarkana. “There were schools with more than 10,000 students without any successful applicants. Brenda and Kaylee deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their academic records and for their interviewing skills.”

JAMP provides financial support for students participating in their programs and assistance upon acceptance into medical school, so the stakes are high for applicants — as is the competition.

“I was nervous going into the interview,” said Awuah. “When I saw more than 50 students step off a bus from the University of Texas at Dallas, it hit me that I was the only one from A&M-Texarkana invited for an interview. And I considered that to be a great honor.”

 Dr. Alam said he reached out to 25 biology majors during the fall semester and interviewed 10 students. He selected Awuah, an honors student who graduated from Pleasant Grove High School in Texarkana, Texas, and who helped form the Eagles Band at A&M-Texarkana, and submitted her application for the 2016 entry year.

“It’s a rigorous process, and we are very excited to have such an interest in JAMP,” Dr. Alam said. “Biological science is one of the most popular majors at A&M-Texarkana. Many of our students are interested in medical careers, which we hope will have a tremendous impact on the regional medical community.”

Loeza, who is completing her first year as a JAMPer, participated in a paid enrichment program last summer at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station. She was assigned to a Phase-I science enrichment program focusing on general chemistry, biology, and critical thinking and a phase-II MCAT (medical college admission test) preparation program. The MCAT program included a comprehensive online preparation and free access to the Kaplan library of MCAT modules.

"Being accepted into JAMP is such an honor. I have been given the amazing opportunity to advance my education and future career," Loeza said.

Already a high achiever, Loeza had a perfect grade-point average as valedictorian of her class at New Diana High School in Diana, Texas, in 2013. But she credited JAMP for providing her with the confidence she needed to meet the criteria and pursue her dream to become a doctor.

Awuah and Loeza are both quick to praise Dr. Alam and the faculty at A&M-Texarkana for their support and encouragement.

"I am truly blessed with the chance to fulfill my heart's desire to help others, especially children,"” Loeza said.

For inquiries regarding JAMP and the pre-health program at A&M-Texarkana, please contact Dr. Nurul Alam at (903) 334-6671 or Nurul.Alam@tamut.edu.

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