By Kate Hunger
Going to graduate school in her hometown of Laredo has allowed first-year Master of Physician Assistant Studies student Annalee Aldape to expand her career options while staying connected to family.
Aldape, who earned her bachelor’s in biology from Texas A&M International University in Laredo, was working as a physical therapy technician at a clinic when she learned that UT Health San Antonio’s School of Health Professions would be expanding its PA Studies program to Laredo. Aldape wasn’t familiar with the PA profession, but she liked what she saw when she shadowed several PAs. She decided to apply and is part of the program’s first cohort of eight students, which began classes in May 2021 on the campus of the UT Education and Research Center at Laredo.
“I felt like this was meant for me,” she said. “I wanted to stay here with my family. Ever since I was little, we were very big on family time — spaghetti Wednesdays and barbecues on the weekends. I can still study and do what I need to do for school, but I still have that family time.”
Being a PA appeals to Aldape because of the ability to help people every day
“There’s so much information, so much knowledge that I’ve gained the last two semesters,” she said. “I can put everything into play when we go into clinicals.”
Aldape also appreciates the interprofessional experiences she’s had, including a session on mechanical ventilation led by respiratory care students and a class at the School of Dentistry in which the PA students learned about local anesthesia.
“I’m excited to finish up the program and see what happens from there,” she said.