Spring 2022 Graduation Stories

Outstanding Biology Student enjoyed MSU Texas as springboard to medical school

Alyssa Brown grew up in Wichita Falls. She had visited Midwestern State University’s campus growing up to see the annual Fantasy of Lights display.

But her awareness of MSU Texas and the education experience offered were limited. Her vision, however, was unlimited. She was determined to be the first in her family to graduate from college. She concentrated on her path to medical school.

Brown thrived at MSU Texas and will accomplish those goals in 2022 as she gets ready to walk across the graduation stage at the Spring 2022 graduation on May 7 at Kay Yeager Coliseum. Next, she will attend the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, beginning in July.

“I’m a first-generation student, the first in my family to complete a college degree, so this is a pretty big deal to me,” Brown said. “I’m super excited, and it acts as a marker for my younger siblings (three sisters).”

She was recently named the Outstanding Biology Student for 2021-22 at MSU Texas.

Brown said one challenge about being a first-generation student was not having guidance for some of the nuances, such as how to find financial aid and college applications. “It can be hard, but you have to show that you want to keep going. Something I learned very quickly is that MSU is its own community. I’ve lived in Wichita all my life, but we never immersed ourselves in MSU culture. I didn’t know anyone personally who went to college here.”

During her freshman year, she found a poster on the wall with information about the Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP). That was a game-changer for Brown, who majored in biology and minored in chemistry. It’s a program that supports and encourages highly-qualified, economically disadvantaged students to pursue a medical education. And the program further supports the students with summer stipends, internships, hands-on experience, MCAT prep, and mentoring.

Alyssa Brown

“That’s what I had come here for, and it almost seemed too good to be true,” Brown said. “They really do a lot financially helping kids get to medical students. They allow you to interview at schools and pay your application fees. I found so many opportunities through JAMP.”

Brown had internships at Texas Tech Medical School and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

And at MSU Texas, she enjoyed the chance to live at home with her family and embrace college life simultaneously. Her favorite memories include learning and sharing in lab classes, she said. “Microbiology, for example, we’ve done some fun stuff with bacteria and looking at antibiotic resistance. That’s specific, but I thought it was interesting to look at something at that level."

“I came to appreciate the smaller class sizes and that you got to know the professors and could ask questions one-on-one. They knew you by name, and I really appreciated that.”

And plants, not exactly her favorite topic, came to life thanks to Professor of Biology William Cook. “Dr. Cook is a very funny guy who makes classes interesting. Even in botany, which I wasn’t excited to take, I came away with an appreciation for plants that I didn’t know I had. It’s been fun, plant collecting and doing things I didn’t think I’d enjoy.”

She will miss her communities of Wichita Falls and MSU Texas but noted she will be close to home in Fort Worth. “I’m super grateful for all the professors, the honors program, JAMP, and my family for being so supportive through this process.”