ACU pre-dental, pre-med graduates continue tradition of achievement
For Immediate Release
May 14, 2001
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For the second year in a row, Abilene Christian University graduates have achieved a 100 percent acceptance rate into dental schools - a rate at least double the national average, said Dr. Charles Mattis, pre-dental advisor, assistant professor and local dentist.
All 10 applicants from ACU for dental school were accepted at schools in Texas and Oklahoma. And continuing a long-standing tradition, 17 of 22 medical school applicants from ACU were accepted - an acceptance rate nearly double the national average, said Dr. Perry Reeves, ACU chemistry professor and pre-med advisor.
"I can't remember the last time an ACU student came here and didn't make it through the program," said Dr. Jack Long, director of admissions for Baylor College of Dentistry - The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. "ACU graduates do well here academically. They are well-prepared, and I believe it's the personal attention and small classes at ACU that make a difference."
One student, Julie Ward, currently has a 4.0 grade point average and has been accepted into Baylor's School of Dentistry as a junior. She will complete her degree in a cooperative partnership and still receive a Bachelor of Science degree from ACU.
Another recent graduate, Gwin Estes, has been accepted to the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry. She is related to four Abilene dentists, all of whom graduated from ACU: her grandfather, John Estes Jr.; her dad, John Estes III; her aunt, Jane Estes Tindol; and her cousin, Gary Linn.
"I feel totally prepared for dental school," said Gwin Estes, biology graduate. "My professors have taught me in the classrooms, and they also have reinforced the kind of person I want to be."
Each year, the College of Medicine - Texas A&M University System Health Science Center accepts only 64 students into its medical program. They received 2,400 applications, of which 1,800 were complete.
They interviewed 500 applicants, submitted 390 names for consideration, and selected 64 students from 30 different universities, including MIT, Brigham Young and Vanderbilt, said Kendra Cocek, admissions supervisor.
Half of the students accepted into the Texas A&M College of Medicine were from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin, which have approximately 40,000 students each, Cocek said. This spring, three were accepted from ACU, which has approximately 4,800 students.
"The ACU students had excellent GPAs and MCAT scores that were right on target," said Cocek. "Without these basics, students don't make it past the first round of screening. It's very competitive to get in."
Not only did the ACU students pass the first screening, they scored well in the succeeding interviews and committee votes, Cocek said.
"The three gentlemen we accepted from ACU this year passed every hurdle without difficulty," Cocek said. "By their interview scores, they were strong. In fact, their interview scores were well above average, almost perfect. The interviewers liked them a lot, and the committee as a whole liked them. There was no disparity between their numbers."
Representatives from various dental and medical schools say that the extracurricular activities of ACU students strengthen their applications. For example, this past year, six of the 10 pre-dental graduates had traveled to Africa or Central America on medical mission trips. Many of the students planning to be doctors had done similar work, including volunteering in the local hospitals and "shadowing" doctors.
"People in Texas are recognizing that we have something unique in the science programs at ACU," said Mattis, who leads students on medical mission trips each summer. "Abilene Christian is well-recognized among medical and dental schools in the state. Our rigorous science program and small student-to-faculty ratio make a real difference when it is time to write recommendations for these students. We know them, and we know what they can do."
Students succeed in medical and dental school academically, but Dr. Bernall Dalley, assistant dean for admissions and student affairs at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine, believes ACU graduates bring an additional quality.
"The thing I find unique, or at least a strength of ACU students, is their quality as people," Dalley said. "They have high standards as a group - personal and ethical standards. It's amazing how many of our med students who stick out in my mind are from ACU. I'm impressed with them."
ACU's overall acceptance rate into medical school is 80 percent, but it's been 84 percent during the past five years, including a recent year of 100 percent acceptance. The national average is between 35 and 45 percent, Reeves said.
"I think we have a reputation for integrity and high ethical standards," Reeves said. "Our acceptance rate is not as high as it is because we have the smartest students. They're bright, but they're not the smartest. But we mentor these students and work hard at helping them succeed. The people in the state's medical and dental schools know what they're getting with an ACU student a person who is well-prepared academically and will give their all to become doctors."
Beyond being accepted into and finishing medical school is actually learning to care for patients.
And Dalley said the ACU students do well in this arena, too.
"ACU students become the kind of physician you want to treat you," he said. "They make good doctors."
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