Three Southeast Pre-Med Students Accepted to Prestigious Medical School Program


Photo of Southeast Students accepted to Bryant's Scholar Program

Three Southeast Missouri State University students have been accepted to the University of Missouri-Columbia Medical School’s prestigious Bryant’s Scholar Program. Andrew Valleroy, Tara O’Conner and Andrew Jackson, seated, are currently sophomores in Southeast’s pre-medical program.(View larger photo of the students accepted to the Bryant’s Scholar Program)


Sept. 11, 2006 – An unprecedented three Southeast Missouri State University students have been accepted to the University of Missouri-Columbia Medical School’s Bryant’s Scholar Program.

Tara O’Conner, of Ingleside, Texas; Andrew Valleroy, of Hillsboro, Mo.; and Andrew Jackson, of Piedmont, Mo.; were all recently admitted to the program. All three are sophomores majoring in biology with a biomedical sciences, or pre-med option.

“The Bryant’s Scholar preadmission program was established in 1995 to allow students to receive their undergraduate degrees in their regions, while at the same time preparing them to attend medical school at the University of Missouri School of Medicine,” said Dr. James Champine, director of the pre-medicine program at Southeast. “It is part of a strategy to encourage young people from rural areas to pursue a medical education, as these students are more likely to practice in a rural area,” he said.

The Bryant’s Scholar Program reserves admission to the University of Missouri Medical School if students maintain a high level of academic performance for the remainder of their undergraduate studies. To be considered for the program, students must demonstrate at minimum a 3.3 grade point average (GPA) and ACT scores of 30 or SAT scores of 1300. Bryant’s Scholars are expected to participate in rural medicine after they complete their residencies. The program is highly selective, according to Champine.

“It is very rare for three candidates to be accepted from one school,” Champine said. “These three students are exceptional candidates. They meet the rigorous GPA and ACT/SAT criteria, have hundreds of hours of volunteer and medical shadowing experience, and are leaders in a number of on-campus organizations and off-campus service activities.

“They were among 15 students from Truman State, University of Missouri-Rolla, Missouri State University and Drury College competing for 10 spots,” Champine added. “An exception to the program’s limit of two per school was made because these three students were so highly qualified and well-received,” he said.

The education they have received thus far at Southeast has bolstered their qualifications, according to Valleroy.

“Southeast may not always have the reputation that other schools do, but it clearly has a very strong pre-medical program,” Valleroy said. “All three of us being chosen for the Bryant’s Scholar Program is a direct reflection of that, and shows that Mizzou’s School of Medicine believes we can do well. It is quite an honor to be selected for this program. It is definitely rewarding to know that a professional school saw that I had the potential to do well in their program,” he said.

O’Connor and Jackson echoed the sentiment.

 “I feel honored to have been chosen for such a selective program,” O’Conner said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to concentrate on my education at Southeast, while knowing that all my hard work will be preparing me for medical school.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in med school,” Champine said.  “Southeast also has similar arrangements with AT Still University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the UM-Kansas City Dental School. We want Missouri seniors to think of Southeast as their best choice for advancing to professional school,” he said.

The message is apparently getting through to students.

“I love the pre-med program at Southeast,” O’Conner said. “I don’t feel like I’m just lost in the crowd. I have great professors who are genuinely interested in their students’ success, and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”

“Southeast’s pre-med program is very strong,” agreed Valleroy. “At no point in this selection process did I feel that I was ill-prepared compared to the pre-medical students from other schools. I believe we have great science professors, and certainly strong advising.”

Jackson admits he carefully considered his decision to attend Southeast.

“I deliberated for some time if Southeast was right for me,” he said. “I now, with no hesitation, will tell you it was by far the best decision I could have made. The professors at Southeast are excellent, and although it may sound clichéd, all of my teachers have known me by name. I have several friends who are attending larger universities and are pursuing medicine as well, and I feel that my curriculum is equivalent if not better to what they are receiving,” Jackson added.

After completing medical school, both O’Conner and Jackson plan to practice pediatrics, while Valleroy plans to enter a family medical practice. All three said the hours they spent shadowing at hospitals and volunteering helped prepare them for their pre-med studies, and they encourage other students interested in pre-med to do the same.

“The more time I spent in the hospital shadowing physicians and volunteering, the more sure I was that this is what I want to do,” O’Conner said.

“I would advise other students who are interested in pre-med to work hard, not only in school, but in the community,” Valleroy added. “Becoming a physician is about helping people, and if you can go the extra mile and participate in selfless acts of community service, it really shows you are dedicated. It is easy to get discouraged, but persistence is key.”

O’Conner also reminds students to enjoy their college experience and get involved in more than just their studies.

 “Be yourself and get involved,” she said. “There are so many great clubs and organizations and so much to be a part of. Just get out there and interact with lots of people; we learn a lot from each other as students.”