MarcoDonna North High School senior Marco Pina could not believe his ears when he heard he was the first to get accepted for admission into the new Texas A&M McAllen branch campus.

The DNHS Student Body President was surprised when he received a call from one of the university’s academic advisors telling him about the news. “The first thing she said was ‘congratulations’ so I figured I was getting the ordinary congratulations call,” Pina recalled. “I said ‘oh thank you’ then she said ‘you’re the first one to be accepted to the McAllen school. You’re making history’. I was speechless. It’s a huge honor. I never expected this to happen. I’m blown away.”

He said his parents were thrilled too. “When I told my mom, she couldn’t believe it either,” Pina said. She said ‘really oh my gosh. You’re going to be in the news.’ It turns out they did a story about me at College Station. Then I talked to a reporter with the Monitor newspaper and I did an interview with Channel 23. It was like this whole big publicity that I was not expecting at all.”

Pina initially applied to the School of Engineering at Texas A&M University at College Station in October. He heard in January that the program was filled to capacity. “I was really anxious and worried because it was a long wait for me,” Pina said. “When I got the news, I was disappointed I didn’t get into the flagship university. At the same time, I didn’t feel as bad because I wasn’t rejected. It was a space issue. The program is nationally ranked and very competitive.”

In a follow-up email from the University, Pina was provided with three other options. It listed Texas A&M Blinn-Bryan, Texas A&M at Galveston and then Texas A&M McAllen. “Texas A&M McAllen just popped up,” Pina said. “I was like ‘oh my gosh’. I didn’t know if it was real at first so I did some research on it and the A&M branch was in fact opening in McAllen in the fall. So, I clicked on a tab and all my application information was transferred to McAllen. Within three days, they notified me that I had been accepted.”

IMG_1452Pina was even more excited when he learned the McAllen branch will be manned by the flagship university at College Station. “Everything is the same,” Pina said. “The curriculum and incentives are the same. If a student attends all their four years, they can graduate with an Aggie ring.”

Still, Pina said he may decide to transfer to Texas A&M College Station. “I feel I should wait either a year or two,” Pina said “Then I’ll go when I feel it’s time. Both my parents wanted me to stay because I’m an only child. They don’t want to see me go but they’ll support me if I choose to go.”

Pina said staying here also saves his parents money. “Housing is somewhere around $10,000,” Pina said. “I’m not going to apply for housing because I’m going to be home. I’m going to commute back and forth. I didn’t get too much financial aid but whatever I’m getting is going to help.”

For now, Pina is excited about being the first to be admitted and starting his college career at Texas A&M McAllen in the fall. His goal is to become an aerospace engineer. “I always told myself I wanted to be someone known for something.” Pina said. “I want to make a name for myself. I don’t want to be just the average person. I want to be somebody people read about in history books and people write stories and essays about. I think this is a great start.”