For as long as Ericka Torres can remember, she has always wanted to become a doctor.
"It's something about helping people that I really like," said Torres, now a freshman biology major at Texas A&M International University.
Although once a dream, Torres' wish is closer to becoming a reality now that she is one of a small but growing group of A&M International students enrolled in the University's Early Medical School Acceptance program.
Organized by A&M International in collaboration with The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the program offers outstanding high school senior students the opportunity to enhance their competitiveness to gain admission into medical schools.
Torres, for example, must attend A&M International during the academic year and spend four summers at UTMB. After completing her pre-medical training at A&M International, she will be invited to apply to the UTMB Medical School, where she will have a guaranteed slot, as long as she maintains certain standards dictated by the program.
Besides participating in all summer activities, she must maintain a minimum science grade point average of 3.0 and a minimum overall G.P.A. of 3.2. Torres must also complete UTMB summer courses with grade B or better.
Torres, who plans to study obstetrics and gynecology, said she decided to enroll in the program because it is the most convenient way to start a competitive study while staying at home.
"I didn't want to start somewhere else away from home,"said Torres, "Some high school graduates have difficulty adapting to a different environment away from home and end up coming back home to make up their lost courses. This program gave me an opportunity to stay at home and build a chance to be accepted into medical school."
Dr. Mario García Ríos, assistant professor of biology and chemistry and coordinator of the program at A&M International, said applications are now being accepted for Spring semester enrollment in the program. Applications must be received at the College of Science and Technology, located in Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall 301, by 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2000.
Enrique Lobo, also a freshman biology major at A&M International, said he decided to enroll in the program because he plans to become a pediatrician.
"Once I finish my medical studies, I want to come back to Laredo and the South Texas region because there is a need for more bilingual doctors here," Lobo said.
Lobo said he thinks the Early Medical School Acceptance program at A&M International is a perfect way for him to start the process of applying for medical school.
"I think this program provides a great opportunity for students like me and opens the door for us for medical school," Lobo said.
For more information, please call Dr. García Ríos at 326-2440. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.