This year’s HOSA team dominates at their first competition


“[I] feel like a proud mom,” said junior Nicole Aquino. “You’re so happy that after all their hard work, it’s paid off. So that’s how it felt; I’m very happy for my friends.”

As a board member, those feelings of motherly pride are what radiated through Nicole as she watched her fellow HOSA team dominate at their first competition, the HOSA Regional Leadership Conference.

Nicole first joined HOSA, a club devoted to learning more about the health sciences, when it was brought to FHC last year. They offer a variety of medical field themed events that members first compete in at a regional competition to advance onto States.

Now in her second year competing, Nicole has the privilege of leading her team as a board member, presenting a valuable leadership experience and added responsibilities.

“It’s such a great opportunity to learn more about being a leader,” Nicole said, “because as you’re getting older now, you have to do that and step into adult life. One of the jobs of the board is to push everyone to study because I know it’s hard to study [with] a bunch of other things going on.”

Thus, Nicole aided in motivating her fellow team members to either study for test-based events or practice for skill-based events, though a lot of the preparation was autonomous.

“It was all independent,” said HOSA adviser Joslyn Burnaby. “At our meetings, we just have our [medical profession] speakers, so they can be exposed to different [medical fields], and on their own, they study if they have a test to take, or if there’s a skill— like a CPR skill— they’ve been practicing those on their own. So it’s all been independent.”

As such, many hours were spent prepping, studying, and practicing. After about three months of this hard work, the HOSA team boarded buses on Dec 7, headed for Kalamazoo to take on their first competition.

“[The competition was] lots of fun,” said sophomore and HOSA member Julia Kirkman. “We got to compete in a relatively low-stress environment with super supportive teammates.”

Burnaby enjoyed finally seeing the team’s hard work culminate for the first time.

“They were nervous, and they were all excited,” Burnaby said. “Then when they came out of their competitions, they were relieved, but they knew they did well. So it was fun to watch them go through that transition that day.”

Emotions were certainly running high that day, but many of the students found themselves to be well-prepared for the competition after their months of dedication, including junior Pranav Nalam, who chose a test-based event.

“Since it was my first time taking the test, I didn’t know what to expect,” Pranav said. “However, my preparation truly helped. There were many questions I didn’t know which also helped me because now I know the kind of questions that will be on the test [at states].”

But after students finally competed, they were granted with downtime before the awards ceremony, alleviated by the relief of finishing their events.

“The best part is always spending time with everybody,” Nicole said, “especially after all the stress and preparing for all this. When we were all done, we had downtime to just eat and play games, so that’s what we did.”

These circumstances presented a bonding setting for the HOSA team, as together, they went through the motions of stress and adrenaline and relief.

“We have freshmen to seniors,” Burnaby said, “so they all don’t necessarily know each other very well. But hanging out together all day long, traveling on the bus, and sharing stories about what their competition was like really helps form new friendships or extend some that are just starting to come together.”

As the awards ceremony rolled around at the end of the day, that uniting quality heightened with the stress and anticipation.

“At the awards ceremony, you could feel the anticipation from all of us when a new category was coming up,” Burnaby said, “like, ‘Who’s going to be called?’ and then the release of excitement when one of ours’ was called down. They were all together. Everyone was paying attention for everyone else’s competition.”

Nicole, too, noted the nervewracking and high-strung emotionality of the awards ceremony.

“There’s always that little moment before the awards ceremony,” Nicole said. “We’re all just like, ‘Guys, I don’t know how I did on that.’ And then when they call their names, you see their faces are just absolute [in] shock.”

While awards are always a thrilling part of the competition, this year’s regionals were particularly exhilarating for the FHC team. Of the 46 students FHC sent to the competition, 40 qualified for States, with 14 taking home gold, 3 taking home silver, and 8 taking home bronze.

“It felt good,” Burnaby said. “I could see the pride and accomplishment in them. Even though I didn’t directly help them— I just kind of provided resources— you always want to see your students succeed. And to watch them succeed outside the classroom in something that they’re just truly interested in was rewarding. I felt proud for them.”

With so many going onto States, the next step for HOSA is now preparing for the next, more difficult competition.

“They know it’s going to be a little bit tougher,” Burnaby said. “The competition’s going to be tougher; the tests will be a little bit tougher. So now they’re studying more and figuring out what they didn’t know at Regionals.”

States will be held in March, and the team has high hopes of having member advance to Internationals as last year, senior Tori MacLeod had the opportunity to do so

Beyond the competitive spirit, the HOSA team’s hope is to continue to engender passion for the medical field and pave the way for students’ future careers.

“A long-term goal would be for them to continue exploring these interests that they have,” Burnaby said, “and [identify] what they need to do to achieve those goals if they really want to go into the medical field as an adult and what’s the next step they have to do, and hopefully I can help somehow to provide that for them.”