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As Harlingen School of Health Professions approaches the year in which it will graduate its legacy class, the trailblazing campus is in the planning stages of creating new opportunities for students.

In partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, HSHP is working to develop a multi-faceted program that could potentially provide teacher externships and practicum opportunities for students along with other real-world experiences in the medical field.

“We want our science and CTE teachers to take a tour of STDOI’s site to see what opportunities could present themselves and to experience first-hand the reality of what we are preparing our students to go out and do,” said HSHP principal Tina Garza. “It is about connecting the real world to what we are trying to accomplish with our instruction here at HSHP.”

This partnership will also lend itself to making authentic research opportunities available for students as STDOI’s area of focus is to advance the study of the major diseases that plague the Rio Grande Valley.

“These are real-world experiences that would be, in my opinion, very similar to working in a top-notch research lab,” said Garza. “Students will be working with live data and real people. It will provide interactions that are critical to building our students’ skill set.”

In addition to their partnership with STDOI, HSHP will be working toward further partnerships to provide practicum opportunities geared toward other schools of study. On Thursday, January 26, HSHP will be hosting a Potential Partner Expo as part of HCISD’s Heroes for Harlingen program. The school has invited community members and past presenters among others to attract partners who will impact the lives of students and enhance the work of the district.

“I’m very excited to showcase what it is we are doing, where it is that we’re going, how we positively impact students, and why our students are here,” said Garza. “The why is very important because I think that we should not lose sight of students’ individual stories. I want our attendees to see that these students, as young as they are, have a deep understanding of their purpose and area of study.”

The South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute was established as a major research center to advance research on diabetes and obesity, develop better treatments and ultimately improve the health of residents in South Texas and beyond.

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