A Healthy Experience: PPCHS HOSA Takes On SWLC


Donated by Rebekah Barrera

Rebekah Barrera, Arts and Entertainment Editor

   Although it appears to be a regular school auditorium, the kids that fill its seats aren’t just average students. Scrubs and suits replace school uniforms, fake body parts are stand-ins for textbooks, and the official HOSA emblem is proudly worn instead of school logos. These aspiring doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other future medical workers take their seats, awaiting the results that would determine whether the state’s conference is in the question or not. After weeks of preparation and hours of competing, each award’s announcement is met with an eruption of applause—the audience cheers to advancement, cheers to relief, and cheers to the future of healthcare that they will create.

   By 7:30 AM this past Saturday, February 11, a line of kids trailed outside the doors of American Heritage School in Plantation. The Sunrise Winter Leadership Conference (SWLC; also considered Health Occupations Students of America’s, or HOSA’s, regionals) was the sole event PPCHS HOSA members worked toward; and it was finally here.

   While some had to qualify to attend, the purpose of the conference was to gather all the region’s HOSA clubs for traditional brick and mortar competitions. These competitions involved over 20 different topics and consisted of verbal presentations, written essays, physical demonstrations, impromptu speeches, and so much more.

   Despite individual study sessions and practices, Charter’s first-time participants (almost the entire club) felt the immense pressure from the moment they arrived on campus. “It was definitely nerve-wracking…especially seeing all these other kids look so prepared,” junior Marcus Arayata shared. “Our event was Creative Problem Solving, so we had 30 minutes to prepare and plan a solution to a random problem… it went by so quickly we kind of just had to wing it.” The sentiment was shared across every partaking school for the three hours the competitions lasted.

   Once those three anxiety-inducing hours ended, however, the school became grounds for new adventures. Participants were greeted outside with food trucks serving a variety of cuisines, kicking off the conference’s social hour. Junior Gabriella Tolentino, one of Marcus’s group mates, deemed this her favorite part of the event: “After the hard part was over, it was so fun to just relax and explore [the school] while waiting for our results. My group was able to talk to some other kids competing in the same event and they were super cool… it was nice to know that at least some of us were in the same boat,” she explains.

   Come the true moment all HOSA members were waiting for: the awards ceremony—PPCHS students were filled with nervousness once more. A light Jeopardy: HOSA Edition game to open the ceremony only built up the suspense, until finally, the results were ready.

   For Charter’s first year back in the competition, expectations were exceeded. 24 of our very own Jaguars placed in the top 5 of their respective events! This included Hannah Flores and Annabelle Acevedo placing first in Medical Innovation, Amogh Baranwal placing second in Cultural Diversities and Disparities, Inioluwa Fatimilehin placing second in Medical Law and Ethics, Hana Bushra placing third in Medical Law and Ethics, Emily Brown placing fourth in Medical Math, Lauren Fernandez placing second in Biotechnology, Aakash Suresh placing fifth in Biotechnology, Martin Pereira placing third in Sports Medicine, Devadharshini Dhandapani placing third in Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking, Sri Madabhushi placing fifth in Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking, Gabriella Tolentino, Rebekah Barrera, Marcus Arayata, and Orion Taleon placing fourth in Creative Problem Solving, Kailee Maldonado and Nina Galvao placing fourth in Health Career Display, Sumona Edavalluri and Rebecca Castillo placing fifth in Health Career Display, Meggan Martin and Amanda Vasquez placing fifth in Health Education, and Sahana Sathiyaseelan, Sneha Mathews, and Faith Biju placing fourth in Medical Innovation.

   The general reaction from these winners was that of shock. Sophomore and first-place victor Annabelle expressed that she was “Very surprised… but also glad!” even after designing a device to “facilitate tactile localization technologies” with her fellow friend and partner, Hannah. Third-place winner in Sports Medicine, Martin, mirrors her feelings: “I’m super surprised [that I got 3rd place] because there were kids in there that… knew what they were talking about and they looked like they knew it like the back of their hand!… There’s also this other kid… he had his whole computer out in the other room… and I ended up placing higher than him!” the sophomore exclaims.

   These significant moments wouldn’t have happened without the help of PPCHS HOSA’s leaders, especially that of President and Regional Officer Sri Madabhushi. As President, the senior guided members through the entire process, and she couldn’t be happier with the results.

To see it actually happen and go beyond any of our expectations was pretty special,” she says passionately. “As club president, my main goal this year was to gain some sort of representation for our school within the region… it felt really good because I think it’s something that just reaffirms students’ passion in the field.”

   While PPCHS HOSA members are still resting from the events of regionals, certain winners begin to prepare for the state-level HOSA conference. For those who didn’t make it that far, the benefits of a raw experience at such an event are to be reaped in the future.