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  • Writer's pictureCollege 1st Program

La Joya ISD Migrant Students as Future Medical Professionals

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Four High School students of La Joya ISD gather with their surgical masks, gloves, forceps, and surgical steel needle to perform a potentially life-saving procedure: suturing an open wound…on a replica of a patient, of course. Photo by: Ivan Aguillon

Written By: Abigail M. Avila

June 2019

LA JOYA, TX— Dozens of injured patients lie in wait for treatment. A quick, skilled response is needed to stitch up the patients’ wounds. Masks and gloves are on, forceps are in hand, and surgical steel needles are ready for the patients. The focus is intense for these middle and high school students of La Joya ISD performing the procedures. Although the patient in the room is actually only a small, skin-like suturing practice pad, the experience is as real as can be. This was just one of the series of Medical Professions and Leadership activities implemented throughout the day, in partnership with La Joya ISD Migrant Education Program.

“After today, I would like to be a doctor because I want to help people and be able to give the good news to other families that their family member is okay.” Clarissa Rojas, La Joya ISD Migrant Student, said. “After the hands-on activities, I feel like I want to pursue a medical career because I really like this. It feels right for me... I want to be able to help people that are in need.”

The word ‘need’ strikes an important note for the Rio Grande Valley. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), each of the four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley are identified as Medically Underserved Areas (MUA), meaning, “having too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty or a high elderly population.” Additionally, the HRSA has also designated the counties in the RGV as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HSPAs), which are designated due to an area “having shortages of primary care, dental care, or mental health providers…”

With an increasing need for skilled medical professionals, CAMPs like these cannot come at a better time to help prepare our future workforce for such a vital role in our community. Students also have a great advantage by beginning their professional career at an early age with the district’s implementation of the ‘Academies of La Joya ISD’. The Academy of Health Science Professions is just one of the five Academies that La Joya ISD has implemented in the district in order for the students to have a more valuable and enriching educational experience before reaching the postsecondary level. These are just some examples of how the La Joya ISD exemplifies their vision: “Educational Excellence is the Right of Every Student.”

The interactive, hands-on activities the students participated in were invaluable for a range of reasons, from helping the students learn the fundamentals of the human body to using the actual equipment healthcare providers use in their practice.

A group of La Joya ISD middle school students take turns identifying, and correctly placing the squishy organs and bones inside the body’s plastic frame. Photo by: Ivan Aguillon.

“First we did the ‘squishy human bodies’ [activity]. At the end of the day, I conquered the challenge and I was able to remember the different types of organs,” Delilah Acosta, La Joya ISD Migrant Student, said.

In the “squishy bodies” activity, students use a replica of a small human body and their trusty, necessary materials: surgical masks, gloves, and forceps. In this activity, students have to dissect the body, identify the organs and bones, and put the parts back where they belong with the proper surgical tools.

“And then we did the suturing activity which was kind of hard. It was hard to get the needle through the skin but then it got easy as we went on and we got a lot of experience doing that. We know how to tie the little knots and everything… It’s an experience I will never forget,” Delilah said.

The “squishy bodies” and suturing were just the tip of the CAMP’s iceberg, though. The students were able to learn a lot about the healthcare field by participating in the numerous activities of the day. In being exposed to so many different fields in medical field, the students are one step closer to finding their passion, even if it is not in the healthcare industry. With La Joya’s Academies fitting a wide range of professions from an early beginning, the horizons for the future of the students are limitless.

Ultimately, the students left the Medical Professions and Leadership CAMP with a spark of inspiration and with a curiosity of what’s to come in their bright future.

Middle School students of La Joya ISD take turns on the balancing boards activity. Boards like these are used in physical therapy and sports training to help strengthen coordination and proprioception (knowing where the body is in space). Photo By: Ivan Aguillon.

“Some students, especially at the high school level, they might have an idea, but most of them do not know what career they wish to pursue. I believe that these CAMPs help by exposing them to the different types of jobs that fall under the specific category. Said, Mario Carrillo, La Joya ISD Teacher and College 1st Teacher Summer Extern. “For example: the health professions. They know now that there is more than just nurses. They know there are physical therapy, gastroenterologist, and veterinarians. I am more than certain that these students will get motivated to go into college they are willing to research that career on their own time and look up the ‘degree plan’ on it.” Carrillo concluded.

For more information on La Joya ISD Migrant Education Program, please contact them at 956-323-2560 or visit their website at College 1st is a program founded in 2013 in the Rio Grande Valley to empower students for college and career success. For more details about the program, please visit our website at

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