Daniel Lopez has dreamed about attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for as long as he can remember. The 16-year-old Donna High School incoming junior said everything he had visualized about the university and much more were confirmed when he stepped foot on the campus this summer.

“I teared up a little because seeing the school in pictures is one thing, but actually walking on the grounds of my dream school is another,” Lopez said. “The campus is beautiful and the culture and history behind it is amazing. Everything is so advanced. The banners that were displayed outside the main buildings promoting research were really neat. It was an awesome opportunity. I’m grateful to have been selected to go on the trip.”

Lopez and three other DISD students had a unique opportunity to visit MIT as well as Ivy League universities Harvard and Brown through the Texas Graduate Center’s (TGC) MathTeach Collaborative. The initiative paid for the university tours as a result of DISD recruiting teachers to participate in the Master of Liberal Arts in Mathematics program at Harvard University.

1“The purpose of these tours is to provide students an opportunity to explore universities they may not have initially considered for their postsecondary education,” TGC’s Associate Director Adriana Lopez said. “We hope that exposing students to campus life at Ivy League universities demystifies these universities and students will no longer feel that an Ivy League education is something unattainable. Once they are there and see the campus, an Ivy League education becomes a possibility.”

DHS’ Lopez said he can see himself going to MIT. “I feel I will fit in perfectly,” he said. “We all have similar interests and see ourselves as people who are going to do great things in the future. That’s how I view myself.”

Lopez’ goal is to become a biomedical engineer and design medical instruments to help people with epilepsy. He said that his older sister Alyssa was diagnosed with the condition when he was a child. “When I saw my sister having a seizure for the first time, it traumatized me so that experience has been my driving force,” Lopez said. “This past year I started a science project and created an electricity monitor that reads and measures brain frequency. My project made it to state where I was able to discuss it with radiologists who were intrigued by it.”

Jonathan Marcus Sherchand of Donna North High School was also in awe with the universities that the Donna students visited. “It was an amazing, once- in-a-lifetime experience,” Sherchand said. “It was refreshing to experience new cultures and many historical buildings. It was also an eye opener to the many incredible possibilities these universities have to offer.”

9Sherchand said that he pictures himself at Harvard University. “Harvard is a place where I believe I can build on my passion, enjoy the culture and challenge myself with the curriculum it has to offer,” he said. “The atmosphere is full of life and learning.”

Sherchand said that he is interested in a position as a U.S. Attorney. “Donna ISD gave me the opportunity to attend a debate conference and that’s where I found my passion for debate and law,” Sherchand said. “I have a close relationship with God, so I see this career choice as a way to combine justice, integrity and debate with my passion for reading and learning.”

The university tours included an information session that covered topics on course selection, financial aid, admissions, college life, scholarships, study abroad programs and undergraduate research opportunities.