Early College High School students who belong to the Health Occupation Student Association are, from left, Nayeli Sanchez, Elizabeth Maguire, Vrinda Bhakta, Yareli Reyes, Yareni Reyes, Patricia Gadbury and Evelyn A. Gonzalez. (Submitted Photo)
A handful of students joined the brand-new Health Occupation Student Association at Early College High School in January.
Not two months later, five of those founding members brought home a number of top-three finishes at a state competition, qualifying them to compete at the international competition in Orlando, Florida, in June.
Seven Early College students participated in the state Health Occupation Student Association competition Feb. 23-26 in Albuquerque, competing against students from throughout the state. They competed in events that demonstrated their medical skills, tested their knowledge in different areas of medicine and required them to write essays, create public service announcements and speak on medical issues.
Elizabeth Maguire placed first in in extemporaneous writing and second in veterinary science; Nayeli Sanchez placed second in the healthy lifestyles competition and third in dental science; and Yareli Reyes placed second in the biomedical laboratory science competition. A team composed of Vrinda Bhakta, Evelyn A. Gonzalez, Maguire and Sanchez took second place in the creative problem-solving competition.
The students returned home excited not only about their wins but also their future careers.
“Competition motivates us because we see how our field is,” Sanchez said. “I was questioning whether or not I should be an orthodontist before doing the dental science competition, but, after the competition, I was sure that was the field I wanted to go into.”
“HOSA was an amazing experience,” Gonzalez added. “I learned so many new things, and I definitely will do it next year.”
HOSA sponsors Lucie Hall and Nancy Toth said they enjoyed working with the students to help them become more knowledgeable in their chosen career paths and to become leaders in their careers and communities. The competition provided these students opportunities to showcase their skills and knowledge and reinforced the values of their rigorous study and hard work, Toth said.
HOSA is an international organization that promotes career opportunities in the health care industry and is dedicated to enhancing health care. It provides middle school, high school and postsecondary students opportunities to gain experience in the medical field, mentor with medical professionals, develop leadership skills and provide community service.
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s Emergency Medical Services program partnered with the Early College chapter to provide support, mentoring and training. Although the Early College chapter was organized in January, many members are already certified in CPR after training with ENMU-R’s Justin Powell and Stacie Nason.
In March, the members will work with Powell and Nason to gain their first-aid certification. With the help of these partners, HOSA students will be even better prepared for future competitions, Hall said.
The Early College HOSA chapter is looking for additional partners among other health organizations in the community. Partner organizations also may donate medical supplies, in addition to providing mentoring and training.
Early College Principal Porter Cutrell said HOSA contributes to the school’s mission of preparing its students to be contributing members of society when they graduate.
“It is our goal to provide students with meaningful learning opportunities, and Health Occupations Student Association participation is part of our comprehensive college and career readiness program,” he said. “I look forward to watching our HOSA organization grow, represent Roswell in positive ways, and watching our students transition into the workforce.”