Beyond the HOSA Experience
Fall 2005: “Our organization’s motto is ‘The Hands of HOSA Mold the Health of Tomorrow’”. I remember this very moment like it was yesterday, where I sat in the auditorium as an ambivalent freshman among the entire Academy of Medical Arts at the first HOSA meeting of year. I distinctly recall the chapter advisors and officers explaining all of the opportunities within the organization including competitive events, leadership development, community service, etc. I must admit, as a naïve freshman I was skeptical about how much I really would be able gain from being an active member but nonetheless was drawn in by the anecdotal stories of upperclassmen that attended prior National Leadership Conferences (NLCs). This initial doubt was quickly challenged during my first few months in HOSA and consistently throughout my time as a member at the secondary level. I was fortunate enough to attend two NLCs as a competitor as well as represent NJ HOSA as state president and a voting delegate during my sophomore year. As a junior I thought I had experienced all I possibly could within the organization, however I was extremely humbled and honored to be elected to serve as an officer in the national executive council during the 2008 NLC.
Now, reflecting back 10 years from my initial exposure to HOSA, I can’t thank the organization and all of my advisors enough for fostering my personal, professional, and intellectual development. Participating in competitive events exposed me to the wide array of careers one could pursue within the biomedical and health sciences while serving in various leadership roles within the organization allowed me to attend various conferences in different states. While I was able to travel across the country during my time in high school, I would have never thought that my experiences in HOSA would open doors to life-changing experiences and send me half across the world!
As a general member I competed in Researched Persuasive Speaking two years, qualifying to attend the 2006 NLC in Anaheim, CA and placing among the top 10 in Orlando, FL during the 2007 NLC. This event allowed me to begin developing the skills of critical analyses and argument formation that was further refined during my undergraduate career. This unique way of thinking was invaluable throughout my college years where I simultaneously completed degrees in Biology and Cultural Anthropology. While having a strong knowledge foundation is important, having the right leadership skills opens up doors of opportunities that we otherwise would not have thought were possible. The combination of critical thinking skills and leadership background I developed as a member, competitor, and officer within HOSA helped me obtain multiple research assistant positions in various medical anthropology projects with the Latino community of Trenton, NJ that ranged from clinical verification of cultural practices pertaining to Latin American women during pregnancy/early maternity to investigating the connections between culture and psychiatric health of Latinos. Later, these opportunities set the stage for me to be one of 10 researchers contracted by a medical school to conduct clinical investigations in Murcia, Spain after graduating college. Today, the scopes of research projects I collaborate on straddle the lines between the biomedical and sociocultural realms of health.
In retrospect I can certainly argue that my interest in research began as a young competitor in HOSA and was refined throughout my years in college. The leadership that HOSA helped me develop, provided a way to distinguish myself and offer different skill sets in collaborative research projects. All of these experiences have allowed me to hold various positions at hospitals and most recently, be offered a graduate research assistantship at the University of South Florida in the Applied Medical Anthropology program. I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for having the chance to be an active HOSA member during high school. My time in the organization allowed me to grow personally, professionally, and intellectually; opening the doors to amazing opportunities. “The Hands of HOSA Mold the Health of Tomorrow”. I, without a doubt, am a firm believer.