White coat ceremony

Aydrien O’Grady, a Temple High School junior, receives her white coat during a ceremony for new Texas Bioscience Institute students held Tuesday at Temple College.

On Tuesday, 69 students from eight school districts donned their white coats.

The white coat ceremony, held annually at Temple College, signifies the beginning of a student’s academic journey at the Texas Bioscience Institute, a TC middle college.

The Texas Bioscience Institute offers Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-based (STEM) programs to promote a skilled and knowledgeable medical and biotechnology workforce in Central Texas. Texas Bioscience Institute programs serve high school students.

The middle college designation allows dual credit learners to be enrolled in more than two dual credit classes per semester.

Temple College President Christy Ponce recognized the administrators and board members from the area school districts attending the ceremony.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the students here today who will be earning their white coat and will be making an important commitment to their education in a STEM field,” Ponce said.

Family members should be proud of the future class of 2022, Ponce said.

“They will need your encouragement and support,” she said. “Know that Temple College is with you every step of the way, to ensure that you have an incredible experience.”

John Sorensen, a graduate of Temple Bioscience Institute in 2013, was guest speaker.

He received a bachelor’s of science degree in 2016 from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He worked as adjunct instructor at UMHB for two semesters.

Sorensen has been working with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Temple through a USDA contract. He’ll soon have a permanent position with the USDA as a biological science technician.

Sorensen attended Harker Heights High School. His family moved to Bell County in 2010 from Fort Riley, Kan.

“For you who don’t know, Fort Riley is in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

Sorensen said when he heard about the TBI program and the ability to earn dual credits he was interested.

“I started in 2011 and it was an amazing experience,” he said. “I gained so much knowledge, some pretty advanced for someone my age.”

Sorensen said he continues to promote the program to anyone who will listen.

“I still wear my white coat at work,” he said. “You can ask anyone I work with, if I’m in the lab, I have it on.”

Sorensen worked with two TBI students who had summer internships at the USDA Agricultural Research Services.

The opportunities, like summer internships, provide TBI students the chance to garner knowledge and experience most students wouldn’t be exposed to until college or beyond.

Sorensen said many of his friends at Harker Heights didn’t want to attend TBI because they didn’t want to give up sports or band.

There are sacrifices that come with the program and Sorensen said for him it was the early hour wake-up call. He had to be up by 5 a.m. so he could catch the bus at Harker Heights High School to get to TBI in time for the 7:25 a.m. start.

The benefits, Sorensen said, outweigh the tribulations.

“Congratulations to you all, I hope you have a great two years,” he said.

Katie Burrows, former chairman of the TC board of trustees, helped each new student put on their lab coat during the ceremony.

The Texas Bioscience Institute, located on the Baylor Scott and White West Campus, opened in the fall of 2006. As a partner with community, education and business interests, Temple College took a leadership role in developing the TBI’s innovative educational model involving area high schools, colleges and universities to bring new educational opportunities to Central Texas residents.

Texas Bioscience Institute programs serve high school students, transitioning military personnel, military dependents, displaced workers, and other certificate, associate or bachelor degree-seeking students.


The Texas Bioscience Institute Class of 2022 includes the following:

Temple – Alison Elliott, Faith Farbo, Isaac Iglesias, Mia Kraan, Austin Madsen, Natalie Martinez, Aydrien O’Grady and Alexia Sanchez

Belton – Jocelyn Aguirre, Benjamin Broom, Nadia Carrera, Dallas Hankamer, Lucille Johnson McQueen, Aimee’ Jones, Lexi Marshall, Lori Mendoza, Brandt Menzie, Ashley Perrier, Riley Suiter, Drew Vuong, Lynsie Ware, Katherine Weaver and Michael Wingo, Jr.

Salado – Kamryn Cole, Hayden “Ryley” Flores, Wesley Hernandez, Madeline “Maddy” Holt-Bourland, Raegan Maag and Sophia Olivarez

Troy – Landen Bennett, Lily Curtis and Emily Williams

Rogers – Jeremy Alexander, Courtney Andel, D’Angelo Campos, Alyssa Cardenas, Kaitlyn Cloyd, Abby Conlon, Armando Corona, Makenzie Davis, Ben Hutka, Caleb Kostroun and Luke Prado

Holy Trinity – Chrysanthe Nikolaidis

Academy – Kaelyn Crawfor and Korin Honke

Ellison – Arij Bhattti, Clarissa Fernandez, Joshua Holland, Khannah Jackson and Shamil Ordillano

Harker Heights – Shabeeb Bahar, Samuel Boehm, Raphael Dela Cruz, Kosisochukwu Eneli, Grace Kawamata, Gloria Kim, Kayla Labrado, JuHee “Julia” Lee, Sebastian Nau, Sarah Oxendine, Bianca Ruiz Pena, Jonathan Spivey, Aalijah Thrash, Lex Tracy and Ca’Miaya Walker

Home Schooled – Ezra Kwan

Chilton – Dillon McCord