EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The UTRGV School of Medicine celebrated its new class of medical students on Saturday at the annual white coat ceremony. The ceremony is a rite of passage for medical students as they prepare to become the next generation of health care professionals.

“Everybody, I think, has worked tirelessly and continuously to reach this goal for at least three or four years so the moment is a bit surreal and we are extremely excited to finally start,” said UTRGV Medical Student Jose Delgado.

Delgado told ValleyCentral he has always wanted to help people. Delgado is also a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant and said it is his families military history that inspired him to go to medical school.

“Hearing the stories of my father and my uncles and his uncles really inspired me to follow their path this time as a physician instead of the other jobs that they did.”

Delgado was one of 117 students who received their white coats. Along with the class of 2026, the class of 2024 was also celebrated since they did not get to have their ceremony during the pandemic.

Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine Dr. Michael Hocker told ValleyCentral these last two years has seen a massive need for more health care professionals especially in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Every specialty we look at there is a desperate need for additional physicians,” Dr. Hocker said. “Every year we can produce more physicians and health care professionals we can make a bigger pool of health professions that can serve the valley.”  

As this class prepares to fill that need, they have some advice for others who are looking to study medicine.

“This is an extremely challenging and demanding endeavor. So, all of the help and advice you can get do not be afraid to reach out and ask anyone who has done it before you,” Delgado said.