Featured, from left: Dr. John Krouse, Dean of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, and Patrick Ojeaga of McAllen, a third-year medical student at the UTRGV School of Medicine. On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Gov. Greg Abbott announced his intent to appoint Ojeaga to serve as a student regent for the UT System Board of Regents – a first for UTRGV.
Photograph Courtesy UTRGV SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Gov. Abbott announces his intent to appoint Patrick Ojeaga of McAllen, a student at UTRGV School of Medicine, as UT System student regent
By LETTY FERNÁNDEZ
Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, announced his intention to appoint Patrick Ojeaga, a third-year medical student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, to serve as a student regent for the UT System Board of Regents.
Born and raised in McAllen, Ojeaga is the first UTRGV student to be selected as a student regent.
“I am grateful and feel incredibly honored that Gov. Abbott has expressed his intent to appoint me as the next student regent of The University of Texas System,” Ojeaga said. “I look forward to the opportunity to serve with the board of regents and to contribute to providing equal and fulfilling opportunities for our students to receive the highest-quality undergraduate and graduate-level education.”
The student regent serves a one-year term, from June 1 through May 31 of the following year. The UT System student regent has the same rights as regularly appointed board members, except the right to vote or be counted towards a quorum for official board business. The position serves without compensation but will be reimbursed for expenses incurred during official Board business.
“Patrick is the first student in the history of UTRGV to receive this appointment. He was a student-athlete and graduate of UT Austin before returning home to the Rio Grande Valley to attend medical school,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “Student Regents are appointed by the governor for a one-year term. Join me in congratulating Patrick Ojeaga and wishing him much success as he begins his important role as the student regent of the University of Texas System.”
Ojeaga will be representing all students in the UT System, which is by far the largest university system in Texas.
The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest systems of higher education, with 14 institutions that educate nearly 240,000 students, according to its website. Each year, UT institutions award more than one-third of all undergraduate degrees in Texas and more than half of all health professional degrees. With about 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 83,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.
In 2005, Senate Bill 1227, which created the position of student regent at all public university systems in Texas, was approved by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry.
In addition to Hinojosa, all the other Valley legislators at the time voted for Senate Bill 1227: Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview; Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen; Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; and Rep. Jim Solis, D-Harlingen.
Edinburg City Attorney Omar Ochoa, who then was president of the University of Texas Student Body, testified in support of Senate Bill 1227, authored by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, and sponsored by Rep. Geanie Morison, R-Victoria, which also greatly affected student financial aid programs and other measures to improve access to higher education.
The author is the legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the primary author). The Senate allows multiple primary authors for each bill or resolution. The House of Representatives allows only one primary author, the house member whose signature appears on the original measure, and on the copies filed with the chief clerk. Both chambers also have coauthors, and the House of Representatives has joint authors.
The sponsor is the legislator who guides a bill through the legislative process after the bill has passed the originating chamber. The sponsor is a member of the opposite chamber of the one in which the bill was filed.
According to the House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research arm of the Texas House of Representatives:
Senate Bill 1227 provided for the appointment by the governor of a nonvoting student regent to the governing board of each university system and of each public college or university that is not part of a university system, established requirements and procedures for the solicitation of applications and the selection of candidates for the governor’s consideration when appointing a student regent to each board, and set forth the limitations, powers, and duties applicable to that position.
The board of regents, the governing body for The University of Texas System, is composed of nine members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Terms for regents are scheduled for six years each and staggered so that three members’ terms will usually expire on February 1 of odd-numbered years. In addition, the governor appoints a Student Regent for a one-year term.
Ojeaga succeeds Daniel R. Domínguez of El Paso, who was appointed by Abbott for a one-year term that began on June 1, 2019. When appointed as student regent, Domínguez was studying for his Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Administration.
Currently, Nolan Pérez, M.D., of Harlingen, serves as one of the nine members of the UT System Board of Regents. He was appointed by the governor in March 2018 to a two-year term on the board of regents.
Pérez, who was confirmed by the Texas Senate on Friday, April 10, 2019, is scheduled to serve until Saturday, February 1, 2021.
Ojeaga is one of 10 student regents Abbott is appointing to represent their respective university systems. He will serve through Monday, May 31, 2021.
“Patrick is a great example of the amazing opportunities UTRGV provides our students, especially those students from the Rio Grande Valley,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “He is a great ambassador for UTRGV and our School of Medicine, and I am confident he will serve as an exemplary student regent for our UT System.”
Ojeaga, a student-athlete at UT-Austin, was a member of the UT football team from 2015-2016.
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, he was accepted to the UTRGV School of Medicine.
He said he chose to study medicine at UTRGV because of its commitment to providing care to underserved areas and the school’s close-knit community.
“I came back home to serve this area and learn and train where I was born and raised and learn from this community, where there is so much health disparity,” he said in a 2019 interview. “I always knew I wanted to pursue medicine because of its unique combination of science and service.”
A member of the UTRGV School of Medicine Class of 2021, Ojeaga plans to specialize in orthopedic surgery when he graduates.
He served as the American Medical Association/Texas Medical Association (AMA-TMA) chapter president and is a student ambassador and peer tutor.
Dr. John Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, said Ojeaga has been an outstanding student.
We congratulate Mr. Ojeaga on his appointment to the University of Texas Board of Regents by Gov. Abbott,” Krouse said. “He is a tremendous leader at our university, and we are confident his dedication and work ethic will be mirrored in his new position as the new student regent on the UT System Board.”
The governor on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, announced his selection for students regents for all the public university systems in Texas. That list follows:
Midwestern State University
Montes Martínez of Wichita Falls is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Finance from Midwestern State University.
Stephen F. Austin State University
Ireland Bramhall of Nacogdoches is pursuing a degree in Hospitality Administration from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Texas A&M University System
Cahlen Cheatham of Stephenville is pursuing dual Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness and Economics from Tarleton State University.
Texas Southern University
Joseph Johnson of Sugar Land is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Texas Southern University.
Texas State University System
Amanda Lee of Jacksonville is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Sam Houston State University.
Texas Tech University System
Brooke Walterscheidof Muenster received a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech University and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree.
Texas Woman’s University
Dawna-Diamond Tyson of Frisco received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice for Texas Woman’s University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science.
University of Houston System
Alvaro De la Cruz, Jr. of Converse received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Houston Victoria.
University of North Texas System
Dianna Nguyen of Arlington is pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
University of Texas System
Patrick Ojeaga of McAllen is pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Levi McClennyof Katy is a first-generation college student who previously served as the student regent on the A&M University System Board of Regents, and is in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering at A&M College Station.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE MATCHES WITH 55 STUDENTS FOR CLASS OF 2024
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine announced on Monday, June 8, 2020, that it has matched with 55 prospective students for its Class of 2024.
The new cohort is comprised of 53 Texas residents who have matched, including 27 students from the Rio Grande Valley, further strengthening ties to the community. Two candidates are from outside of Texas. Of the 27 from the Valley, 15 are from Hidalgo County and 12 are from Cameron County. Of the 27 Valley students, 17 are from UTRGV.
Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for the Division of Health Affairs, said the School of Medicine is continuing its commitment to educating top quality physicians, especially in these uncertain times.
“We are dedicated to training a diverse group of medical students who are passionate about treating and advocating for patients in underserved communities,” Krouse said. “I am confident that the Class of 2024 will bring pride to this institution, as they become the next generation of talented and dedicated providers serving the Valley and beyond.”
The 55 prospective students were selected from more than 4,500 applicants and make up a diverse group that boasts an average MCAT score in the 74th percentile nationwide, a grade point average of 3.63, and an average BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) grade point average of 3.54.
Students entering the Class of 2024 also come from prestigious institutions throughout Texas and the nation, including Brown, Cornell, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Vanderbilt, among others.
The admissions process at the UTRGV School of Medicine recognizes the importance of diversity in advancing its mission and in training students who will reflect the diversity of the patients served by the medical school.
The demographics of the Class of 2024 are 40 percent Hispanic, 31 percent Asian and Asian Indian, 14.5 percent African American, 13 percent White/Caucasian, and 1.5 percent with more than one ethnicity.
The class also will be comprised of 55 percent female students and 45 percent male students.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.
UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island.
UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.
Dimitra Trejo and David A. Díaz contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).