UTRGV’s new scholarship program tackles ‘brain drain’

UTRGV's Guy Bailey prepares to announce a new merit scholarship program during a press conference at UTRGV Preforming Arts Center on Tuesday, Oct.,12,2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced its Luminary Scholarship program Tuesday, which will offer full tuition and fees for up to four years for students admitted provisionally to professional or undergraduate programs.

UTRGV educators, students and other dignitaries attend the press conference at UTRGV Preforming Arts Center on Tuesday, Oct.,12,2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

UTRGV President Guy Bailey told a crowd at a news conference Tuesday that the program, made possible through a $40 million gift made by philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, is a unique scholarship opportunity.

For starters, Bailey said the program will help address the Valley’s “brain drain,” educated young people headed north in search for more opportunities in higher education.

“Our main export is not citrus, it’s not cotton. It’s human capital,” he said. “How do we keep more of that human capital in the Valley? That’s what we want to respond to.”

Part of the way the program is intended to accomplish that is by paying for tuition and fees for students attending the university’s schools of medicine and podiatry. It’ll also cover those expenses for all four undergraduate years and pay for university housing for the first two academic years at the university.

Scholarship recipients will be required to sign a pledge to work in the Valley for every year behind their undergraduate education funded through the program.

According to data on the university’s website, the program will pay for a $75,000 education for participating graduate students and a $137,000 education for medical school students.

“What’s distinct about it, when you go onto graduate school or to medical school, no tuition, no mandatory fees,” Bailey said. “Imagine starting at UTRGV, graduating from medical school debt free. How ‘bout that?”

Speaking at the event, state Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa highlighted the importance of student financial assistance and what it could mean for the Valley’s future.

“Many of us have left the Valley and come back, because we believe in the Valley,” he said. “It’s where the action is. It’s where the growth is.”

Along with the employment pledge, qualifications for the program include academic achievement, leadership experience, community involvement, citizenship and residency, college admission and on-campus residency.

Those requirements and more information are available at www.utrgv.edu/scholarships/scholarships/luminary/index.htm.

The Luminary Scholar program may not be the only significant student aid announcement made by UTRGV this fall.

Bailey couldn’t resist tantalizing the crowd with news that the university would make another major announcement in late November, though he declined to expand on what that announcement may be about.

“You’ll have something to be thankful for at Thanksgiving,” he quipped.