Vandegrift alumni enrolls in new college programs


Amy Webre

Drake Webre is a student in the RELLIS college program. Photo by Amy Webre.

Nicholas Scoggins, Staff Reporter

Seeking to provide an affordable four-year degree to students wishing to pursue a degree in STEM, a coalition of colleges has come together to establish the RELLIS program. One of its newest students just so happens to be Vandegrift alumni Drake Webre.

“Founded in 2016, RELLIS is an integrated education research and testing institution located in Bryan, TX that, through partnerships with the Texas A&M University System and Blinn College, is providing an affordable way for students like me to pursue a four-year degree plan in a field involving research and engineering to shape the future,” Drake Webre said.

Webre completed his studies at Vandegrift in 2021 and is planning to study biology while in college under the RELLIS program. After he graduates, he plans to pursue a career in a similar field.

“Currently, I am pursuing a bachelor of science in biology through Blinn and A&M Texarkana at RELLIS and hope to find a job in microbiology and research after graduation,” Webre said.

The newly-built campus is equipped with the latest in technology in order to facilitate hands-on learning. Classes are also small, rarely exceeding 30 students. This allows for students to have a closer relationship with their professors and thus have a better chance at success. The school does not, however, have any on-campus housing due to it being newly built. Thus, new students will have to find living arrangements off campus until dorms can be built.

“Currently, I am living in The Tradition apartments located in College Station with a buddy of mine,” Webre said.

Another reason for Drake choosing RELLIS is that the program is affordable. On average, students pay just $24,958 if they are Texas residents attending the fall and spring semesters, according to RELLIS’s website. This is compared to $31,476 for Texas A&M College Station, $31,612 for UT Austin and $67,736 for Baylor.

“I was blown away to find out my tuition is a literal fraction of the price my friends are paying to achieve the same four-year graduation plan that I am,” Webre said.

He has not ever forgotten about his alma mater.  He says that the dual credit system offered by Vandegrift and Austin Community College helped him greatly in preparing for the academic rigors that colleges offer.

“These two things built a sort of foundation for what the differences between high school and college can be like, and the kind of work expected,” Webre said.

Webre is excited to start his studies in the RELLIS program, and feels that it will help prepare him for his dream job of working in biology. He also feels that the RELLIS program offers excellent opportunities due to both it’s low price point and academic excellence, and he hopes that more students end up enrolling and attending.

“I cannot stress how great of an opportunity RELLIS is,”  Webre said. “It’s incredibly affordable tuition is a fraction of the cost of just about every school in Texas.”