COVID-19 Update: Information and resources can be found here.

North Texas students encouraged to reach for the stars

School may be out for summer, but that isn’t stopping dozens of North Texas students from stepping up their science education thanks to UT Southwestern welcoming them into their labs for weeks.


So I'm gonna go ahead and pour that in.

[Narrator] Most are taught at a young age if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish almost anything.

So I gotta make sure it's balanced.

[Narrator] Priya Mandava, an incoming senior in high school, lives by that saying.

I love science. I loved medicine.

[Narrator] Since the ninth grade, Mandava has spent her summers in a UT Southwestern Medical Center Academic Lab, like this one.

That is where I spend about eight to nine hours every day. I have a mentor that works very closely with me, and so, she's still very much standing like side-by-side with me, introducing me to different protocols, different projects.

[Narrator] This aspiring scientist is one of 58 students and 5 teachers participating in the 2019 UT Southwestern Summer Stars Program.

I for sure feel honored to be at UT Southwestern's programs and getting this experience so early, because UT Southwestern isn't just renowned for clinical experiences and it's research, but also the education opportunities it provides.

[Narrator] The Science Teacher Access to Resources at Southwestern, or STARS program, launched in 1991 to improve the quality of science education in north Texas. Since it's inception, STARS has grown to serve more than 65,000 students and 14,000 teachers.

I'm collecting some coronal brain slices.

[Narrator] The outreach has been monumental for people like Lupita Rios.

That summer just completely changed my life. My whole trajectory changed.

[Narrator] After graduating from the program in 2012, Rios went on to Brown University.

Thin slices.

[Narrator] And is now back at UT Southwestern working as a Lab Technician. This fall will begin a new chapter in her career here.

For me, UT Southwestern is a place of open doors and discoveries. My future plans are to start the neuroscience program here at UT Southwestern. I will be starting in August and I will spend the next, hopefully, five, six years of my PhD career just devoting it to research.

[Narrator] Rios is one of many that experienced tremendous opportunities after finishing the program.

I am so thankful for it.

[Narrator] As is Doctor Christian Leal. Upon graduating from the STARS program in 2010, Leal attended Stanford University and then returned to UT Southwestern for medical school. He's now in his first year of residency.

One of the things I realized here when I was 17, was this rigorous approach to science and the application of that science to patient care.

[Narrator] Because of the support Leal received from the UT Southwestern faculty and staff, he is now speaking to other north Texas students, encouraging them to also reach for the stars.

I've been able to speak to hundreds of students in that way and it's a really special way to introduce these students, high school students, to the opportunities available here, and that's been pretty amazing.