Huge demand for inaugural Biomedical Opportunities Academy

More than 30 Tarrant County College students are participating in the new Biomedical Opportunities Academy offered by TCC Trinity River and TCU-UNTHSC School of Medicine. The program’s mission is to inspire young, underrepresented students to learn about human diseases and treatments, and to explore and envision their careers in medicine.

The 10-session Biomedical Opportunities Academy is being offered virtually on Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 29. During the sessions, students are learning about infectious, inherited, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, COVID-19, neurological disorders, medical innovations and cancer. Additionally, students are exploring career pathways in healthcare, the daily activities experienced by medical professionals, and skills critical to the success of any healthcare professional: teamwork, communication and critical thinking.

As this is the first time to offer the pilot program, program coordinators were pleased by the overwhelming interest in the Academy, which received 860 applications for 35 slots. Academy coordinators used various outreach strategies to promote the program and required applicants to have more than 30 college hours, be either a TCC or an Early College High School (ECHS) student and submit an essay detailing their aspirations.

Many of the student essays highlighted the students’ desires to enter the healthcare field. For example, Shirley Rios, a current certified medical assistant with dreams of becoming a nurse, wrote that, “continuing to educate oneself allows us to really advocate for our patients because being well-rounded on what is or can be happening to patients allows us to really make patient care and well-being a [central focus].”

ECHS student Emmerie Harris, who plans to become a doctor, said the program appealed to her interests. “I am more than willing to solve any problem and think outside of the box and find new achievements,” she wrote. The Biomedical Opportunities Academy is allowing her to move one step closer to earning her associate degree in 2023while allowing her to experience an additional level of training for her future endeavors.

The curriculum for the inaugural Biomedical Opportunities Academy was designed by Dr. Kelly Pagidas, academic chair of Medical Education of the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. Several TCC Trinity River faculty are teaching segments of the Biomedical Opportunities Academy:

Kelly Britton – Instructor, Radiologic Technology

Will Blackburn – Instructor, Biology

Maurice Saavedra – Instructor, Computer Tomography

Chioma Olonade – Instructor, Physical Therapy Assisting

Natalie Russell – Instructor, Science

Susan Hamilton – Assistant Professor, Nursing

Razan Valle – Instructor, Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Janani Gopalakrishnan – Associate Professor, Biology

Tonya Pigulski – Instructor, Nuclear Medicine

Gregory Farmer – Instructor, Anesthesia Technology

Dawn Lovelace – Associate Professor, Biology

Christina Blevins – Instructor, Surgical Technology