At 2:30 p.m. at the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts, 180 new medical students continue their journey in health and science at the White Coat Ceremony.
“Very few are allowed to make this trip,” said Dean Steven Burk of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
These students come in and dedicate their time to TTUHSC. Those students are out of the dean’s pool of 5,000 applicants.
They are the top students from more than 45 universities across the United States.
For medical student Joselin Garcia of El Paso, this moment means a lot to her.
“I really want to do family medicine and I want to practice in rural areas because I know Spanish very well,” Garcia said. “I feel like since I’m from a rural area, I can really relate to what these patients are going through.”
Garcia said she wants to change the narrative that typical Hispanic communities live when it comes to medical health. She said she wanted to be more than a doctor for her patients, but a companion they can trust.
“This ceremony always feels amazing to me,” Garica said. “I will be better educated and better able to help my own family and even the families of others. The biggest thing for me with this ceremony would mean the end of one era and the opening of another era.
Garica said she not only shows her gratitude to her family, but also to the Joint Admissions Medical Program. Because of their mission to help the underserved get into medical school, Garcia said she’s been able to meet others who are in her position as an aspiring medical professional.
Denver City’s Heidi Gonzales said the white coat ceremony was not just for her but to represent the Latino community.
“So when I was younger, I grew up with a single mother. She always said the way forward was education. Getting out of poverty is education,” Gonzales said. “So I strive to do that since I want to help my family.”
Gonzales said going to college in the midst of a pandemic didn’t discourage his interest in the medical field, it only strengthened it.
“I think they (healthcare workers) are really our frontline defense,” Gonzales said. “So I have so much admiration for these healthcare workers and hope to be among them soon.”
Avery Garcia de Plains said as a student that this ceremony was so surreal.
“I feel like everything I’ve worked my life for so far is finally here. And it’s just a stepping stone to the next path to success,” Garcia said.
Garcia said his main initial motivation for continuing to do well in the medical field is to imagine his name with a doctor attached to it.
“So waking up thinking about all lives and then changing families and making their lives better is what drives me now,” Garcia said.
The advice Garcia would give incoming pre-med students is to keep your eye on the goal.
“Study hard, stay engaged, stay motivated,” Garcia said. “I know it gets really tough, especially when you’re studying for the MCAT, but you just have to put in those hours.”
TTUHSC medical students come from a variety of backgrounds, but stood in unison during the ceremony and took a not-so-traditional oath to continue serving the health of communities.
Instead of the Hippocratic oath, the new medical students said the following:
“With honor and gratitude, we, the class of 2026 at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, remain steadfast in our continued journey of excellence in medicine.
“We will honor our role as healthcare professionals by always seeing ourselves as equal members of the patient-centered team, recognizing our limitations, celebrating the strengths of others, and upholding the ethical standards of the medical profession.
“We are committed to being mindful and understanding that health is holistic in our evidence-based care, while preserving a person’s autonomy and individuality.
“We will advocate for our patients by respecting their diverse backgrounds, beliefs, values and perspectives to ensure they have access to the highest quality care.
“We accept our responsibility to stand up for the local community around us and the global community beyond us.
“We appreciate the sacrifices of those who have given us the means to realize this opportunity to improve health care for future generations.
“We celebrate the art of medicine as an eternal endeavor in which we embody the role of a lifelong learner, educator and innovator.
“As we don these white coats and the responsibility they symbolize, we look forward to the challenges ahead.”
After the oath, Dean Berk and other TTUHSC faculty congratulated the incoming class of 2026.
“Class of 2026, the sun is still shining here in West Texas, and today is your day,” Berk said.