McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — UTRGV is teaming up with McAllen ISD to open a new collegiate academy.

A groundbreaking was held for the new facility intended to help students achieve academic success.

102 high school students from McAllen ISD have been accepted to the new UTRGV-McAllen ISD Collegiate Academy.

“We only have one goal in this whole enterprise and that’s their success,” President of UTRGV Guy Bailey said.

The $23.5 million, over 65-thousand square foot facility has state of the art science labs and lecture halls.

Ruben Vega, 9th grader at James Nikki Rowe High School says he is excited for this new journey.

“I decided to do this because I’ve always taken the easy way and I have decided this is a great opportunity to challenge myself and see my full potential as a student,” Vega said.

Vega plans to study biology, become a nurse, and eventually receive his doctorate.

He says the path won’t be easy, but he’s taking the right steps now.

“The challenges I think no one is really ready for them until they approach you but I feel like if I take it day by day and I do my work and I stay on my grind every day I’ll be able to do it, so I’m confident with that.”

Elizabeth Gonzalez is the director of the collegiate academy and says this role hits home for her.

“There’s a huge need in the valley for just medical care and being a part of that and bringing that to the Valley is something that I am very proud of, I’m happy to be a part of and I am excited for the future for these children,” Gonzalez said.

She says her responsibility is to guide students and make sure they have what they need to reach their goals, but the spark must be ignited.

“What I need from you is a desire, to want to make your life better to help build this medical community that we want to bring here and I need that want, and that was the main driving force for some of these kids they want it, they want the opportunities,”

Students will have the option to study health science, computer science, engineering, or education.

“If you don’t take this opportunity you’re always going to be wondering, what if I did this, what if I didn’t it’s better to say I tried and I couldn’t and just wonder forever,” Vega said.

The academy is slated to open Fall 2024.