TSC science student awarded a life-changing opportunity

TSC science student awarded a life-changing opportunity.

Texas Southmost College student Daniela Rodriguez is breathing easier thanks to a stipend she recently received as a part of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Research Training Program.

This program known as the B2BMED, and stipend come in partnership with the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and a grant they received from the National Institute of Health (NIH) Research Training and Career Development earlier this year.

The five-year, $2.1 million grant, is part of the NIH mission of providing support to four-year institutions partnered with two-year colleges, to help students make the transition from a community college to pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical research fields.

TSC Department Chair of Mathematics and Sciences Deborah Overath said this partnership puts students like Rodriguez at the forefront of science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) programs and research.

“This opportunity is exposing our students to research opportunities before even entering a four-year university and giving them access to mentors who guide them in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degrees in biomedical health,” said Overath. “This helps us, as instructors, retain underrepresented minorities in these ever-growing fields.”

For 20-year-old Rodriguez, this grant is helping her stay in school to pursue her dream of becoming a physical therapist by awarding her $13,368 per year for tuition and expenses at UTRGV and 60% of her tuition for her last semester at TSC.

The Brownsville native is pursuing an associate degree in Science from TSC, where she also recently earned an associate degree in General Studies.

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, her future was uncertain after her father was laid off from work and her family couldn’t afford to pay for her education.

“This stipend is truly a blessing for me and my family,” she said. “Without it, I don’t think I’d be able to finish my second associate degree, much less transfer to a university. This is really setting me up for a bright future.”

Rodriguez said she is excited to explore the different areas of medical research and to be working closely and learning from esteemed researchers.

“My experience at TSC has been like no other,” said Rodriguez. “I was able to stay close to home and get a quality, affordable education, and TSC has presented me with so many resources and opportunities like this one that have changed my life. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Overath said Rodriguez is a hard-working student and this is a great opportunity for her.

“She is dedicated to her studies, a solid student,” said Overath. “I know she is going to take the skills she has gained at TSC and really excel in this program and at the university.”

Overath knows that the B2BMED program is going to help many of her students, like Rodriguez, succeed in the future and she is excited to see it grow.

“There is so much opportunity in a program like this and we’re proud to be a partner to give these students a chance to explore STEM careers and degrees,” said Overath. “Over the next five years we can’t wait to see the impact it’s going to have on our students and their futures.”