MCALLEN, TX – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the McAllen Independent School District broke ground on the new UTRGV-McAllen ISD Collegiate Academy to serve area students.
This partnership will give McAllen high school students a head start in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, allowing them to earn their degree at no cost, the university reported. A savings of $2.4 million is expected for each class of 125 students over two years.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the university’s role in the partnership allows students to gain opportunities at home in the Rio Grande Valley.
“These schools are unique right now and we had them here first in the Rio Grande Valley. These opportunities make a difference for all of us. They are important to the quality of our lives. This is a game changer in so many ways,” Bailey said.
The center will be located at 1400 N. Commerce Center St., on a 38-acre property at the corner of Pecan Boulevard and McColl Road.
Students will be able to choose one of four tracks of study: health sciences, computer science, engineering or education, or focus on completing their core academic training. The first cohort of students will officially begin in fall 2024, but McAllen ISD has already begun recruiting students for a ninth-grade cohort and will add an additional one in 2023-2024 to prepare for fall courses.
More than 300 UTRGV-McAllen ISD Collegiate Academy students and elected officials and university administrators attended the groundbreaking ceremony in support of the state-of-the-art facility.
Tony Forina, chairman of the McAllen ISD board, said efforts such as the collaboration between McAllen ISD and UTRGV is where the future of education begins. Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, McAllen ISD superintendent of schools, said this partnership will impact generations to come and provide a number of educational opportunities.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the university and McAllen ISD was signed on March 23, 2022.
Ruben Vega, a ninth grader at James “Nikki” Rowe High School, said this new college academy will help students grow and achieve opportunities that their own families may not have had.
One of the biggest impacts the new collegiate academy will have on students is to allow them to get a jump on pursuing bachelor’s degrees. The academy will focus on dual credit educational programs to help students earn college-level credits before graduating from high school.