HOSA Students' Journey to International Leadership Conference

HOSA-Future Health Professionals? Medical competitions? Students dressed in business attire? Leadership conference? Ten EHHS HOSA students, including myself, competed against over 400 students across the state and placed top three in our competitions at the HOSA Spring Leadership Conference. The ten medal winners are now eligible to attend the HOSA International Leadership Conference (ILC) in Orlando, Florida this summer, and seven are actively fundraising in order to experience this opportunity of a lifetime. These seven students are Cameron Cordaway, Zachary Danz, Kellianne Deko, Jenna Esposito, Samantha Incerto, Mikayla Raffone, and myself, Miranda Morman. We have worked diligently to get to ILC this summer, but cannot make it without your support. Over these past three years HOSA has become a passion of mine, and I cannot wait to end senior year by going to ILC. Read on to see how you can help us raise the funds, or click here https://www.gofundme.com/6zhumc8.

Photo Credit: Li Martin

What is HOSA?

HOSA is a student-led international organization specifically for students who aspire to be healthcare professionals. It originally stood for Health Occupation Students of America, but is now just referred to as HOSA-Future Health Professionals because the organization has grown so dramatically that it is international with members ranging from the American Samoa, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, as well as every state in America.

HOSA is run on the local, state, and international levels with each chapter and level having its own set of elected officers. Each chapter runs regular meetings to discuss HOSA-related events and fundraising events for charities. In addition, the most unique aspect of HOSA is members get the opportunity to attend numerous leadership conferences throughout the year to strengthen their leadership skills, heath skills, and overall grow as individuals. At each conference there is a strict dress code, which allows students to dress and feel like professionals.

However, all definitions of HOSA seem to be superficial because it is impossible to explain the impact it leaves on students who truly love the organization and have found a passion in furthering their future through what HOSA has to offer. HOSA means something different to each person involved in the organization and can be defined in many ways:

According to Mrs. Li Martin, the EHHS HOSA advisor, “HOSA is an organization that helps students change their mentality from high school students who accept all information given to them and do not advocate for themselves, and [teaches them] to advocate for themselves, market themselves, and network with people. [It provides them with the] more professional aspect of healthcare.”

According to Ms. Linda Richard, the CT HOSA co-advisor, “HOSA is important for students because it unites students with similar career goals, make connections and friends from all over the country and to be a part of an international organization that supports the advancement of health science education and encourages student leadership.”

According to CT HOSA President and EHHS senior Mikayla Raffone, “HOSA helps students who want to become to health care professionals in the future by teaching them leadership skills, exposing them to important guest/keynote speakers, helping them learn about the basics of healthcare in general, and getting them involved in national healthcare service projects.”

According to three-year HOSA member and Vice President of after school HOSA Jenna Esposito, “HOSA allows adolescents to get a peek into what their futures may consist of. It gives students the opportunity to decide if the health field is really right for them before college.”

According to three-year HOSA parent Christine Raffone, Mikayla’s mom, “HOSA is important because it lets the students use their voice. It lets them grow and learn about the field that they want to get in to. It lets them take a bit of control of their future.”

Washington Leadership Academy (WLA)

The first event HOSA holds every year is the Washington Leadership Academy in Washington D.C., which is strictly for state officers. At this conference students attend workshops to learn how to advocate for themselves and Perkins grants for health science funding. They then use these skills to prepare and give a proposal to their state legislators. Although WLA is not open to all HOSA members, two EHHS students were able to attend last September: senior Mikayla Raffone, who was this year’s CT HOSA President, and senior Samantha Incerto, who was this year’s CT HOSA Historian. Mikayla explained that, “Sam and I were able to advocate for more Perkins grants around CT and have them evenly distributed by each town/school’s income level. It was amazing to be able to have my voice heard in D.C. and knowing that I made a difference.” She is grateful for this amazing experience and considers herself lucky to be able to tour D.C. at such a young age.

Photo Credit: Mikayla Raffone

Fall Leadership Conference (FLC)

The first HOSA event open to all HOSA members is the Fall Leadership Conference. FLC is held on the state level, and is run by the state officers. It is typically an introductory conference to what HOSA is all about and is more topic based. This year’s topic was tobacco awareness, so we listened to keynote speakers talk about advocating for students to be tobacco free and broke into workshops to learn how to do so. One of the keynote speakers was US Senator Richard Blumenthal who spoke about raising the tobacco age to twenty-one. After school HOSA Historian senior Kelli Deko shared, “Listening to and meeting someone as prestigious as Senator Blumenthal is just one example of the opportunities given to HOSA members that the average high schooler does not get. It was a truly amazing experience that I will never forget.”

Photo Credit: Li Martin

Spring Leadership Conference (SLC)

After the FLC ends, students start preparing for the Spring Leadership Conference which is all about competitions. SLC is also held at the state level, and like FLC, there is a keynote speaker, but the main event is all members compete in over 30 medical competitions. The competitions range from tests such as Medical Math and Medical Law and Ethics, to group projects in which students create a display and present about a certain health career; they cater to the talents of every student and there is a competitive event for everyone. Those who place top three in their event are then eligible to move on and compete at the international level. EHHS had ten medal winners this year and of those ten seven plan on attending ILC. Senior Zachary Danz, who placed first in the Medical Law and Ethics event, said, “Hearing my name called when announcing first place was like a huge calm feeling came over me. All the hard work I put into studying finally paid off.” I competed in a team event called Health Career Display; my partner Samantha Incerto and I placed second out of 15 teams.

Photo Credit: Li Martin

International Leadership Conference (ILC)

Photo Credit: Jennifer Sicignano

The main HOSA event of the year is the International Leadership Conference in which members come from all over the US and the world. “The international level is a totally different ball game. It is a huge event with over 11,000 students from all over and usually blows the students away,” said Mrs. Martin, and she could not be more correct. It is a week long event which consists of an opening ceremony in which each state and country is recognized for attending, over 50 competitive events that run on the international level, and numerous workshops to attend which build students leadership and medical skills. At the end of the week there is a closing ceremony in which awards are given ou

competed against people from all over the world, and experiencing a life changing event with some of my closest friends. I look forward to attending this year’s ILC in Orlando, FL and would appreciate your help to get there.

Photo Credit Cameron Cordaway

Help us fundraise!

The trip is estimated to cost around $700-$1,000 per person and we are trying to fundraise as much of this money as possible to ensure all seven medal winners can attend. So far we have had multiple bucket shakes and Rockin’ Jump, Dairy Queen, and Chili's give back nights. In addition we have an on going Go Fund Me page and a T-Shirt Fundraiser in which we are asking businesses and individuals for sponsorships, and in return their names will go on the back of the shirts we will wear during ILC and future HOSA events. As of April 10, 2019 we have raised $1,837, but we still have a long way to go. If you are interested in helping these students reach their academic and career goals please do so on their Go Fund Me link: https://www.gofundme.com/6zhumc8. In addition if you or your business would like to participate in our T-Shirt fundraiser, please contact me at mirandamorman@east-haven.k12.ct.us