Silver cord ceremony

Pictured in an anatomy lab at the Texas Bioscience Institute, Alyssia Wilkinson, left, and her twin sister, Alexia Wilkinson, will be receiving silver honor cords today during a TBI ceremony at Temple College.

Alexia Wilkinson and Alyssia Wilkinson, twins and seniors at Shoemaker High School in Killeen, will both receive silver cords Wednesday during a 7 p.m. ceremony in the auditorium at the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center on the Temple College campus.

Alexia and Allyssia, both 17, will be joined by 81 other Texas Bioscience Institute students.

“It seems fitting, Alexia said. “We started out the program receiving a white coat and we’re finishing up with a silver honor cord.”

Dr. Ruth Ann Murphy, chair of the Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Geology Department at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, will be the featured speaker. Murphy has served as a research mentor to several TBI students.

Students from 11 Central Texas high schools and some home-schooled students will participate in the ceremony. To qualify for a silver cord, students must successfully complete the TBI curriculum as well as 16 hours of job shadowing and 16 hours of community service.

Alexia and Allyssia enrolled in the Texas Bioscience Institute their junior year.

“We both had good grades, and this was a good program,” Alexia said.

Both liked the sciences and both were interested doing something in the medical field, Alyssia said.

In addition to receiving a high school diploma in the next few weeks, the two will be awarded associate’s degrees from Temple College on May 11.

Since they’ll be graduating with a number of college credits and have finished up most prerequisites, the sisters will finish their associate’s degree in nursing at Central Texas College and then enter a bachelor’s degree program at Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen. Eventually, they want to become nurse practitioners or physician assistants.

The TBI program offers a lot in the way of labs, with students having access to items not normally seen in high school, Allyssia said.

Both found the TBI program challenging.

Alexia said she likes that she was attending classes in some place other that her hometown and she was taking college level courses.

There are a lot of good programs, but this one will expose you to a lot of beneficial course work and the college experience, Alexia said

“You learn to set priorities in order to make the deadlines,” Allyssia said.

The Wilkinsons attended class with students they had never met and within two years they know each other well.

“We get treated like adults,” Alexia said.

The work can be difficult, but it’s not all hard work, she said.

“We do get rewarded with field trips and there’s a spring fling before finals,” Allyssia said.

The TBI Middle College program is a partnership with Temple College and area high schools that allow qualified students to enroll in rigorous STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — focused dual-credit course work in their junior and senior years of high school.