The Eagles will fly to the international conference in Nashville
LONG BEACH – The return of in-person attendance at the California HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) Leadership Conference saw Southwest High School’s HOSA chapter sweep the dental science category, with students placing first through fifth and then some.
Future students of medical professionals attended the Cal-HOSA State Leadership Conference in Long Beach after two years of virtual conferences, March 23-26. The Eagles HOSA Chapter won gold, silver and bronze medals in the Dental Sciences category and a Dental Terminology category, also placed in the top five in the Medical Spelling and Mental Health and Wellness categories, said Jackie Valadez, SHS HOSA counselor and career technical education teacher.
Southwest also picked up awards for SHS Principal Matt Phillips as Cal-HOSA’s “Administrator of the Year,” and Valadez herself was named a “HOSA Hero” for 2022.
SHS HOSA teens who placed in the above four categories, along with junior Laura Avila and the rest of the SHS Student Wellness Newsletter “HOSA Happenings” team, are planning and fundraising to attend the International Conference on HOSA leadership in Nashville.
In addition to state-level competitions, the Cal-HOSA State Leadership Conference also featured workshops for leadership development, college and career readiness, a general session with keynote speakers and with “the whole conference full of engaging opportunities for students,” Valdez mentioned.
In context, approximately 11 of the 22 placed SHS HOSA students who attended the conference competed against a total of 4,000 Cal-HOSA students.
Prior to COVID-19, Valadez said 6,000 to 7,000 Cal-HOSA students attended the Cal-HOSA Leadership Conference in 2019, along with middle school through post-secondary (college) students. She said Southwest took 22 of its 85 HOSA students to the conference this year due to COVID restrictions.
“Because we have the dental assisting vocational training course on our campus, our students in the past have done very well at the state level,” Valdez said.
“Since the inception of our program 13 years ago, our students have been doing very well in the dental science event,” she said. “Even during the virtual conferences (the last two years), students competed and won medals in the top three.”
Valadez said attending the State Conference was “really exciting for our students as they worked so hard not only in class but even after school and in Saturday sessions preparing for their event.”
SHS HOSA students who ranked in the dental categories credited Valadez’s teaching prowess and assistance with one-on-one tutoring well after school hours – including Saturday group study sessions – as reasons for their success.
“We understood that we were all very prepared from our class and our studies, but the nerves were just inevitable,” said Southwest senior Danitza Cruz, who placed first in dental science and third in terminology. dental.
“I feel like everyone was stressed, but (nerves) really got you pumped up for the day of (the competition),” Cruz said. “It was a lot of fun, after all.”
“It was cool because I never thought I would be on stage to receive a medal…wow, I just can’t describe how I felt at that moment,” said Paola Vargas, senior SHS, who placed second in dental science.
Avila, who is Southwest’s chairperson for her Student Wellbeing Coalition, said she’s been attending virtual Cal-HOSA state leadership conferences virtually for the past two years, but going there in person in 2022 was “honestly an amazing experience talking to other students and people who think like us, have been very innovative and want to impact their schools and change them for the better,” said Southwest was able to inspire other California schools to improve their own wellness projects.
“We were all a bit sad at the end because we missed a few stages, but we reached the (inter)nationals, which is very good for us,” Vargas said.
“The (international) competition is fierce,” said Laura Avila, the student who presented a 20-page portfolio for the Mental Health and Wellness category at the State Conference.
“We’re talking about people from all over the United States as well as Canada, China, Korea, Puerto Rico – so we’re talking about a really high level competition,” she said. “We will no longer be representing (just) Southwest High School, (at the international conference), we will be representing California HOSA as a whole.”
Avila said the SHS HOSA chapter plans to attend the conference on June 20.
“I can’t wait to do it again,” Avila said.
Valadez said the SHS HOSA Chapter is currently soliciting sponsors to support students traveling to the International HOSA Leadership Conference in Nashville in June. The estimated cost per student is $1,300, according to a sponsorship letter.
Financial contributions to support SHS HOSA students traveling to the International HOSA Leadership Conference can be mailed to Southwest High School HOSA: Future Health Professionals, 2001 Ocotillo Drive, El Centro, CA 92243.
For more information on other ways to support the Eagles HOSA Chapter, SHS HOSA Advisor Jackie Valadez can be contacted by email at [email protected]