Q&A with members of HOSA on preparation for SLC

Lorna Ding

Ayaan Abbasi, president of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and senior:

  • *What resources does the club offer to help members prepare for the State Leadership Conference (SLC)?

“We created a Google Drive folder with a bunch of projects from past years to give students an idea of what theirs should look like. We are also requiring each student participating (at the state conference) to come to a Zoom call with a member of our leadership team to make sure they are appropriately prepared for competition.”

  • What challenges has the leadership team faced in preparing for SLC?

“One issue that we’ve faced is making sure communication with our members is well. We have a large group of over 50 students participating so we have to make sure our way of talking to them works effectively.”

  • What advice do you have for HOSA members to help them prepare for the conference?

“A piece of advice I would give is to be confident in yourself. You already put in the work so now is the time to show it off.”

Amogha Paleru, member of HOSA and junior:

  • How are you preparing for SLC?

“For my events specifically, one of my events is HOSA Bowl so my teammates and I, we read through a bunch of Quizlets and we’re probably going to do a mock buzzer round or something like that just so we’re prepared for that. For Medical Innovations, which is my second event, we have to review our prototype and fix up our trifold and make sure it’s ready for (SLC), using the feedback we got from peers.”

  • *What challenges have you faced in preparing for the conference?

“I think just how different this year is from last year because last year was obviously virtual. This year, there are a lot more interactions with actual people, and (it was hard) trying to get our group together to meet up, especially over spring break when the project was due and stuff.”

  • *How do you feel about this year’s in-person SLC?

“I’m actually really excited because I’ve never been to an in-person conference so it’s going to be really fun. Last year, for tests and events in general, everything was online, but this year, we actually get to go downtown, stay the night for two or three days, and we actually get to room in a hotel. I think nationals this year will be in Tennessee. Last year, it was just online again so it was kind of boring last year.”

Karthik Varigonda, member of HOSA and sophomore:

  • *How are you preparing for SLC?

“One of my events is Biomedical Lab Science so I’m primarily just doing Quizlets using flashcards and stuff. I also found some practice questions and tried to find my weaknesses and improve on them. I also found that generally studying biology textbooks helps. Since I started late, I didn’t really have time to take notes so I’ve just tried to memorize as much as I could.”

  • What challenges have you faced?

“This is my first year doing HOSA so I don’t know how the competition works, so I’m just going with (the flow). I found that the rulebooks were the most helpful because they provided a quick summary of the event and what to study. I’ve asked my friends for help but most of them are also still new to the in-person conference.

  • *How do you feel about the conference?

“I’m a little scared because there’s going to be other smart kids there too, but I hope I can study enough and do well at (SLC). I didn’t prepare as much as I wanted to for the first test, so I want to do better at the state conference. I’m pretty excited that I’ll get to spend a couple days there, and some of my friends are also going so it will be fun to spend a couple days with them.”

Jennifer Drudge, club sponsor:

  • *As the club sponsor, how is the club preparing for the state conference?

“It’s an exciting time right now because the conference is this Thursday through Saturday. Students have been doing a lot of the work throughout the entire year, but then the hardest thing is really preparing for those events. So, a lot of students that participate in HOSA competition or the state conference are at career centers where they have classes that are (on a specific medical area). So for our students, because it’s run as a club and everything is fully on students, there’s a lot of preparation on their own. Our leadership team has put together resources that they can for students, but (the club officers) don’t really know what the competition really looks like that much either. That’s where the tricky part comes again because students have to do a lot of their own research and figure it out, and I know that makes it really hard for kids. In the long run, it also is a really good skill to have moving forward in high school before they go off to college.”

  • What challenges have you faced in helping the club prepare for the state conference?

“I’m a chemistry teacher—not a life science teacher—and a lot of (the events) are more life-science based than anything else. So I don’t have a ton of background knowledge on most of these competitive events. That’s the hardest thing for me is a lot of students will want tips on trying to prepare and study and I really don’t how to help them so again, a lot of it falls back on the student.”

  • *What challenges regarding communication with HOSA members about SLC have you faced?

“It takes a lot of time. We have a little over 60 students going to the state conference this year so there’s just a lot of organization with that. We collect money at three different times, and going along with that, is getting rooming lists ready, making sure everyone understands the expectations of staying the night and transportation to and from (the conference). If a student has an events and needs to leave to go to an event, I need to make sure I have the right paperwork from the parents. It is a busy time getting all of it organized, but it’s well worth it and the kids will have a great time.”

  • *What advice do you have for HOSA members?

“Take full advantage of the time at the state conference. Very little of the time there is actually spent in a competitive event, so HOSA puts together some really cool symposiums for students to get a chance to learn about different health careers that they may not be aware of. It may really spark an interest for them to learn more about that health career and perhaps even go into that career in college and beyond.”