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Pre-Med Students Accepted to Prestigious Program
Three Southeast Pre-Med Students Accepted to Prestigious Medical School Program
Southeast pre-med student Andrew Jackson will be the first to admit he contemplated his decision to attend Southeast.
“I deliberated for some time whether Southeast was right for me,” Jackson said. “I now, with no hesitation, will tell you it was by far the best decision I could have made. The professors at Southeast are excellent, and although it may sound clichéd, all of my teachers have known me by name. I have several friends who are attending larger universities and are pursuing medicine as well, and I feel that my curriculum is equivalent if not better to what they are receiving,” he added.
Jackson, of Piedmont, Mo., and two of his classmates, Tara O’Connor, of Ingleside, Texas, and Andrew Valleroy, of Hillsboro, Mo., were all recently accepted to the University of Missouri-Columbia Medical School’s Bryant Scholars Program. All three are sophomores majoring in biology with a biomedical sciences, or pre-med option.
“Southeast may not always have the reputation that other schools do,” agreed Valleroy, “but it clearly has a very strong pre-medical program. All three of us being chosen for the Bryant Scholars Program is a direct reflection of that, and shows that Mizzou’s School of Medicine believes we can do well. At no point in the selection process did I feel that I was ill-prepared compared to the pre-medical students from other schools. I believe we have great science professors, and certainly strong advising,” he said.
“I love the pre-med program at Southeast,” O’Connor added. “I don’t feel like I’m just lost in the crowd. I have great professors who are genuinely interested in their students’ success, and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”
This is exactly the message that Southeast wants to convey to high school students contemplating their future college choices, according to Dr. James Champine, director of the pre-medicine program at Southeast.
“We want Missouri seniors to think of Southeast as their best choice for advancing to professional school,” Champine said.
“The Bryant Scholars preadmission program was established in 1995 to allow students to receive their undergraduate degrees in their regions, while at the same time preparing them to attend medical school at the University of Missouri School of Medicine,” Champine said. “It is part of a strategy to encourage young people from rural areas to pursue a medical education, as these students are more likely to practice in a rural area. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students interested in med school. Southeast also has similar arrangements with AT Still University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the UM-Kansas City Dental School,” he added.
The Bryant Scholars Program reserves admission to the University of Missouri Medical School if students maintain a high level of academic performance for the remainder of their undergraduate studies. To be considered for the program, students must demonstrate at minimum a 3.3 grade point average (GPA) and ACT scores of 30 or SAT scores of 1300. Bryant Scholars are expected to participate in rural medicine after they complete their residencies. The program is highly selective, according to Champine.
“It is very rare for three candidates to be accepted from one school,” Champine said. “These three students are exceptional candidates. They meet the rigorous GPA and ACT/SAT criteria, have hundreds of hours of volunteer and medical shadowing experience, and are leaders in a number of on-campus organizations and off-campus service activities.
“They were among 15 students from Truman State, University of Missouri-Rolla, Missouri State University and Drury College competing for 10 spots,” Champine added. “An exception to the program’s limit of two per school was made because these three students were so highly qualified and well-received,” he said.
“It is quite an honor to be selected for this program. It is definitely rewarding to know that a professional school saw that I had the potential to do well in their program,” Valleroy said.
O’Connor and Jackson echoed the sentiment.
“I feel honored to have been chosen for such a selective program,” O’Connor said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to concentrate on my education at Southeast, while knowing that all my hard work will be preparing me for medical school.”
After completing medical school, both O’Connor and Jackson plan to practice pediatrics, while Valleroy plans to enter a family medical practice. All three said the hours they spent shadowing at hospitals and volunteering helped prepare them for their pre-med studies, and they encourage other students interested in pre-med to do the same.
“The more time I spent in the hospital shadowing physicians and volunteering, the more sure I was that this is what I want to do,” O’Connor said.
“I would advise other students who are interested in pre-med to work hard, not only in school, but in the community,” Valleroy added. “Becoming a physician is about helping people, and if you can go the extra mile and participate in selfless acts of community service, it really shows you are dedicated. It is easy to get discouraged, but persistence is key.”
O’Connor also reminds students to enjoy their college experience and get involved in more than just their studies.
“Be yourself and get involved,” she said. “There are so many great clubs and organizations and so much to be a part of. Just get out there and interact with lots of people; we learn a lot from each other as students.”