Fortunately for Texas A&M athletics programs, students, faculty, staff and community members are able to enjoy getting into the spirit of home basketball and volleyball games, accented in tremendous part by the rhythm, pace, and driving backbeat of the athletics spirit/pep band, Hullabaloo, directed by Chris Hollar.
One of the 100 members of the Aggie group is percussionist Frank Gomez, a student from the Rio Grande Valley. The musical family of the 130+ members of the Hullabaloo band at various times has five or six students who play a regular trap kit, the big bass drum, and/or cymbals, depending on who is available for each home basketball or volleyball game. Frank is one of the drummers but he’s also distinctive for one more reason. He’s going to be a physician and he has known that from the time he set foot on the Aggie campus that he’d be going to medical school once he graduated from A&M.
That’s a guarantee that comes as part of the State of Texas program that includesTexas A&M’s premedical JAMP program, which stands for Joint Admission Medical Program. The program, established by the Texas Legislature in 2001, is “for Texas residents who are high school juniors, seniors or college students who are interested in the field of medicine to support and encourage highly qualified economically disadvantages Texas resident students pursuing a medical education.
Gomez said that he first became interested in a career in medicine when he was in high school in Edinburg, Texas. He was just one of 600 students in the school, but an advanced placement biology class provided the spark for his fascination with wanting to be a physician. There were no stand-out lab classes for him in high school but he had a chance to learn from Dr. Monzer Yazji of the Rio Grande Valley College of Medicine and observe at Edinburg Regional Hospital.
Dr. Yazji believed in Frank’s dream and mentored him. He supported his choice to become a family physician and allowed Frank to shadow him in some medical care rounds. Dr. Yazji was one of those who recommended Frank for consideration to enter the JAMP program at A&M. Faculty director for this program is Dr. Anne Blum. The decision criteria include the recommendations, SAT, and ACTs, family income criteria, and your grades in first year at Texas A&M.
Once you’re accepted into the program, you are guaranteed admission to one or more medical schools at Texas A&M. So, the pressure is off to see whether or not you’re going to get into medical school. The pressure is only for you to study intensely, learn everything you can and get the most out of your college experience.
Even though Frank was a good student, he was hard on himself and his expectations to do well. Gomez credits Dr. Earle Stone, one of his teachers at A&M for teaching him how to study. The first chemistry example Frank took, he made a grade of 82. Although some people would rejoice for getting a B, Frank knew that was never going to cut it in his mind for his own expectations he placed on himself. Gomez asked Dr. Stone,”What did I do wrong?”
Stone taught him how to study the material and prepare for the lectures by reading the book before you go to lecture, taking notes, how to study and promised him that the technique “would work for everything...here’s what you do.” Gomez applied the study techniques and made a 98 on his second test, a 98 on his third test, and 92 on his fourth text. That one experience Frank said, “turned me around.”
As far as course selection, Frank took the hard classes first, including Developmental Biology, Cell Biology lab, etc., and electives such as a History of Latino Communities
as well as fencing, jazz band, sports management, and diversity in sports. Gomez joined an Aggie concert band and another band friend, Kyle Garza, introduced him to Chris Hollar. Mr. Hollar invited Frank to join Hullabaloo last year and he’s enjoyed it so much he continued this year.
Said Gomez, “No matter what was going on in school, I just needed to play the drums for ‘me’. It helps me keep life in balance. He cites some of his musical influences as drummer Dennis Chambers, and the music of Thelonius Monk as inspirational. Plus, as you’d expect from an academic maverick, Frank says he “likes electronic music and he’s
just now starting to create music of his own.”
Less than a month ago, Frank learned that he’d been accepted to his first choice for medical school at the University of Texas San Antonio. At this point, he intends to become a primary care physician and specialize in both internal medicine and pediatrics so that he can be part of caring for families in all the ways that they need him.
Gomez says that being part of Hullabaloo and being a Texas Aggie is perfect for emphasis on teamwork. “We are so united as a student body, even in classes. We’re
competitive but supportive. Our school dominates in medicine and I’m proud of that.”
Just because Frank is admitted to medical school, the financial burden of his education is not a done deal. Although some scholarship money may be available for his next level of education, there’s no guarantee of Frank having scholarhip funding beyond A&M. However it is definitely with a clear financial slate that he can enter medical school. Others who have not had the chance to benefit from the JAMP program could be graduating with over $50,000 in student loan debt, so it’s definitely a valuable program by which Texas A&M is able to train some of the best young minds in the state, thanks to funding from the Texas state legislature.
For the remainder of the Spring, 2014 semester, the future Dr. Gomez “will be in,” taking his turn playing percussion, along with his many talented musician friends in Hullabaloo. His advice to others for a great Texas A&M experience? Frank prescribes, “Study, stay well rounded, observe and learn from everyone around you, and have fun too.” Sounds like good advice to follow.
Special thanks to TexAgs.com photographer Matt Sachs for taking the picture of Frank Gomez at a recent Aggie basketball game.