Just on the heels of the recent completion of the Central Texas 2-Step Summer Research Program, the Texas Bioscience Institute (TBI) is now opening its doors for additional high school students to experience new opportunities in science and research. TBI recently provided 79 local high school juniors participating in the SPOTS Camp with white coats during the formal white coat ceremony in the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center on the Temple College campus last week. Part of the Middle College Program, this two-year program allows future medical students to take college courses alongside their last two years of high school courses — ultimately graduating high school with an Associate’s Degree.

According to an article on kdhnews.com, there is a great deal of excitement about the program from the students involved: “Angela Lewis, a Killeen High School junior and white coat recipient said she wanted to enter the program in order to earn an associate’s degree. ‘I also like that I get to interact with students from other places,’ she said. ‘I’m excited,’ she said.’Everyone seems happy to be here. They did make it clear that it is hard.’

Sarah Driver, an Ellison High School junior said it is a privilege to join the bioscience program. ‘It’s going to help me with whatever career path I choose,’ she said. ‘I feel lucky to be here. I know I’ll learn a lot.’

With this program, the Texas Bioscience Institute offers students with a unique opportunity to accelerate their higher education and get an early start on career building. During the two years of study, high school juniors and seniors are able to complete lab-oriented college level courses at the Scott & White west campus in Temple for half the school day, eliminating two years of schooling that students would otherwise be required to take while pursuing their education at the university level.

The 79 white coat candidates in the program hail from 12 different schools in Bell County, Texas. Of the 79 total students, 57 are from four schools within the Killeen Independent School District. The high number of participants from the school district is likely related to the district’s assistance with the program — students are provided transportation and other costs by Killeen Independent School District, eliminating limitations that might otherwise be in place.

At the white coat ceremony last week, students were told by David Sprague, chairman of the Temple College Biotechnology Department: “You are the future to make this country a science powerhouse again.”

The Middle College Program at TBI is beginning its eighth year, and this year has seen a higher number of enrolled students than ever before.