Early this April, Whittier College’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter had the opportunity to compete in the Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference. According to their website, hosa.org, “HOSA is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of ACTE. HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the healthcare industry and to enhance the delivery of quality healthcare to all people.”
The conference is an opportunity for middle and high school students, as well as post-secondary or collegiate students, to attend workshops, meet professionals in their field, and compete with students in the same category. Competitions can take the form of online exams or in-person challenges. Whittier College was honorably represented at this conference. Students took part in competitions and workshops, and a couple even placed in their events.
President of Whittier College’s HOSA chapter, third-year Biology major Stacey Calderon, was one of those students. She placed second in the collegiate epidemiology exam against all other collegiate competitors. Third-year and HOSA Chapter Vice President Maya Eylon also placed second in the state for the medical terminology exam. Winning was not the only fun part of the event. “When we went there, we had the opportunity to go to the workshops that they offered,” said Calderon. “There was breakfast for the president of the clubs or chapters. We got to experience a lot of different things and meet a lot of different people. Since I had to do mandatory things, I got to see different aspects. We went to workshops. We got to meet people, and then after we went to this big ceremony that they host for each of the nights of the conference. That’s when you get to know whether or not you got top ten or top three.”
HOSA conferences also present an opportunity for students to experience the professional world before earning their degree. Students get to mingle with other HOSA members and people who have already succeeded in the medical field and learn from them. “HOSA helps it’s members build a foundation for a knowledgeable career in medicine. As an aspiring physician I have benefited from events we have held as a club such as the USC medical school tour we took this semester, and the medical student interview panel we had last semester,” said Eylon. “Events like these have given me valuable insight into my future career path.”
These are opportunities that STEM majors and pre-med students may not otherwise receive when earning a formal education. Calderon and Eylon both believe that HOSA has made an impact on their journey towards their careers. “HOSA has benefited us also in the sense that we build leadership skills. It brought about opportunities for us to go experience things that are beneficial to our careers, or just new experiences,” said Calderon. HOSA is a club that provides leadership opportunities and is nationally recognized. “If you apply to somewhere, like, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of this nationally known organization,’ or even using the skills that we learned from the workshops we go to or the things that they host would eventually benefit us,” said Calderon.