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State program gives LeTourneau students early start on med school

By Meredith Shamburger
March 19, 2017 at 11:54 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2017 at 7:29 a.m.

LeTourneau University sophomore Seth Mattson, left, and junior Keren Engulu have  been accepted into the JAMP program that provides joint admission into a medical school program while still an undergraduate.

LeTourneau University sophomore Seth Mattson describes his goal to be a physician as a calling and a way he can help others.

"I feel like it wasn't like a middle-of-the-night revelation or anything like that, but just kind of a realization that I could help people holistically," he said. "Not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally. I've always loved science and math, but being a physician incorporates all those things."

Mattson is one of two LeTourneau University students who have been accepted into Texas' Joint Admission Medical Program, following in the footsteps of LeTourneau junior Keren Engulu. Mattson is in his first year of the program, while Engulu is in her second.

The program started in 2003 and provides academic support to help students get to medical school and experience with medical school classes and internships.

The program is funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, with all nine Texas medical schools and 67 undergraduate schools participating.

Admission is not a sure thing. Of the 600 students who applied this year, only 100 were accepted, according to Greg Frederick, LeTourneau faculty director for the program and chairman of the Longview university's biology and kinesiology department.

Students accepted into the program complete two summer internships, take medical school course work and receive free preparation for their Medical College Admission Test. They also automatically get interviews at all nine Texas medical school programs and automatic admission into at least one of those.

'It's a big deal'

"That's a pretty big thing, and it's a big deal to be accepted into this program," Frederick said.

Each Joint Admission Medical Program student will complete two monthlong summer internships. Engulu finished her first one last summer at the University of North Texas, where she also took a cardiopulmonary physiology course.

"Those are both at medical schools, so the students actually go and receive training very similar to what they'll receive when they're actually and officially at medical school," Frederick said.

Getting into the program is an arduous process, much like getting into med school, he said: Officials are looking at grades, community service and extracurricular activities.

One of the biggest advantages of the program is getting students interviews and exposure at all nine Texas medical schools, Frederick said.

"Even our best students at LeTourneau that have had MCAT scores sufficient to theoretically get into Harvard School of Medicine have only gotten interviews at three or four of the Texas medical schools," he said.

Engulu decided to apply after learning about the program from one of her professors.

Building confidence

"This is pretty beneficial program," she said. "Not only are they able to work with students, to be able to get them into medical school, but I think they are able to allow them to grow in the process so they are good medical students, not just get into medical school and they leave them hanging. They're there to help guide you until you become a physician."

Engulu said the first year of the program gave her the chance to meet other pre-med students of similar backgrounds while experiencing life as a medical school student.

"It's pretty motiviating and shows you that you can do it," she said.

Mattson echoed those sentiments.

"Coming out of high school, your education's here and medical school is way up here, so your undergraduate is supposed to bridge that gap," he said. "I think JAMP even bridges that gap even more so that when you get to medical school, it's not such a shock, and you're prepared for it."

Outside class, Mattson is a member of the varsity basketball team. He said the program helps keep him on track despite his hectic schedule.

"I think it helps me," he said. "It makes me stay on schedule and not procrastinate."

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