As a child, repeated visits to the hospital were not uncommon for Brawley resident Joy Tango-an. But from those visits a deeper appreciation for the care that doctors and nurses lavished on her prompted Tango-an to seriously consider a medical field profession as a career choice.
“I noticed that helping others could be really interesting,” she said. “And they are working with science, which I like.”
So in keeping with that goal, the 16-year-old junior felt compelled to join the Health Occupation Students of America chapter at Brawley Union High School. The HOSA Club, which has been on the Brawley campus for the past five years, exposes high school and college students to the skills and rigors needed to pursue a career in the medical field.
Along with eight other Brawley HOSA students, Tango-an would attend the 2012 Cal-HOSA Leadership Conference in Anaheim earlier this month. And even though she would forget her dictionary of medical terminology, Tango-an nonetheless came home a bronze medal winner in the medical spelling competition.
“I borrowed a dictionary from another Southwest High student also in the competition,” Tango-an said. “We studied together.”
At Brawley High, enrollment in the HOSA Club has grown yearly since its inception, said faculty adviser Ines Estrada. In addition to the nine BUHS students, three Calexico High and 39 Southwest High students also attended the conference.
Although there was a time when 19-year-old James Olmos wasn’t all that interested in school, he said joining the HOSA Club at Southwest High has changed all of that. The former Desert Oasis High School graduate and current Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program participant said the club forced him to “focus and grow up.”
Now Olmos finds himself serious about going to college in the hopes of entering the dental profession. He would place as a finalist in the dental science competition at the conference, where he had to demonstrate his knowledge building a dental cast using a set of false teeth.
Southwest senior Leslie Aguilar would also place as a state finalist for her participation in the community emergency response team competition. As part of the competition her and her team members’ performance responding to two simulated medical emergencies were judged, she said.
Hoping to become the first in her family to go to college, Cynthia Torres said attending the conference as part of the Southwest HOSA Club allowed her “to step out of her comfort zone” and develop her leadership skills. With her heart set on becoming a pediatric oncologist, the 17-year-old said being a member of the club has allowed her to prepare for what is most likely going to be an “emotionally stressful” career. Torres was also part of a team that would place in the finals of a public service announcement competition.
Although he lives a pretty active lifestyle as a student athlete, 17-year-old Augustine Arredondo noted he could improve his health by adopting a better diet. By dramatically cutting out fast food and soda, Arredondo said he was able to lose 20 pounds over the past six months. His healthy lifestyle choices also became the basis for a portfolio that he would submit to conference judges, earning him a gold medal in the healthy lifestyles category competition.
The aspiring endocrinologist said he plans to attend Imperial Valley College before he eventually transfers to a medical school. Because of a local need for medical professionals, the Southwest High senior said he plans on returning to the Valley for his professional career.
At the conference, Southwest High School Principal Danette Morrell would also be honored with the Outstanding Administrator award for all of her efforts supporting the campus club, faculty adviser Jackie Valadez said.
Fundraising efforts to send students to the national HOSA conference in Florida in June are under way. Community members interested in helping out are encouraged to contact any of the campuses for more information.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-335-4665 or at email@example.com
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