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Two students work on an assignment at IDEA Public Schools

IDEA Public Schools prepares students for health professions

Project Overview

IDEA Health Professions is an open-enrollment public school in Austin. It is Texas’s first college preparatory program that prepares young people for health careers.

How it helps

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 132 Texas counties (more than half) have a shortage of primary care doctors. A lack of diversity among health professionals compounds the issue as patients do not see themselves represented.

IDEA Health Professions provides a high-quality, college preparatory education to prepare students in Austin for comprehensive health professions that meet their communities’ needs. The school operates via an open-enrollment lottery, which means a student’s background and academic experience are not criteria for selection.

At the school, students learn about STEM and health professions from a young age, with the promise of a strong education and a clear path to health-related careers. IDEA’s high-performing network of schools sends 100 percent of its graduates to college each year.

From day one, I was told that I would go to college.

Christobal Velez, IDEA Public Schools graduate

Christobal’s story

Christobal is an excellent student, but he admits that his road in school was often a bumpy one. Born in California, he and his family lived in Mexico until he was in fifth grade. During this time, Christobal’s father mostly lived in the Unites States to find work and traveled home to see Christobal, his mother, and his sister.

“As I got older, my environment in Mexico became tough,” Christobal said. “My dad saw that it just wasn’t safe for me there anymore and he brought me to live with him in Austin where I started in the fifth grade. I moved in with my father in the apartment he shared with my uncle and his family.”

Shortly after the move, Christobal’s father applied for his son to attend IDEA Public Schools, and Christobal was accepted. The move to his new school changed everything. Though the workload was demanding and rigorous, Christobal worked hard to get up to speed. He asked lots of questions and relied on help from his teachers. Little by little, he began to excel.

He admits that he spends many late nights studying and sacrificing time with friends to ensure he earns top grades. However, Christobal knows that this effort will pay off in the long run. With each Advanced Placement (AP) exam he passes, he gains college credits — and that will help when it’s time to pay for college.

“Passing these AP exams means the difference of thousands of dollars towards my education,” he said. “And that’s something I simply cannot take for granted.”

In IDEA Austin, all students must take at least 11 AP classes before graduating high school, so that they are prepared for the rigor of college. This is a pillar of the school network’s college readiness efforts.

“My journey has had its challenges, but my passion for education is loud and confident,” he said. “I am grateful for my families — my immediate family and my IDEA family.”

Foundation Project Lead