LAHAINA - Three Lahainaluna High School students recently placed in the 35th HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Ten LHS students were among Hawaii HOSA's delegation of 185 students, teachers and chaperones that traveled to Orlando to compete with students from 49 states and Puerto Rico in 32 health-related/medical events. More than 7,000 delegates interested in becoming health care professionals attended the conference.
Lahainaluna student Leslie Garo won the Prepared Speaking contest, taking home Hawaii's first gold medal in a speaking event. She also earned a Recognition Award for her leadership portfolio.
From left, Kirsten Gilchrist, Leslie Garo and Ho‘o Cabanilla won awards at the 2012 HOSA National Leadership Conference.
In addition, LHS student Ho'o Cabanilla placed tenth in Extemporaneous Speaking, Kirsten Gilchrist finished tenth in Extemporaneous Writing and Lorrie Dumayas earned an Honorable Mention in Veterinary Science at the national conference.
"Attending nationals was a great experience, and the knowledge that I gained through my competition, workshops and symposiums will help me to become the best HOSA member I can be," said Cabanilla.
Gilchrist said, "My overall experience at the conference was amazing; I was privileged to compete against the best in our country and even placed. All the symposiums I went to were enlightening, and I got to meet interesting people from all walks of life. I can only hope to qualify again next year for nationals."
Other students that advanced through the Maui and state HOSA contests to attend the event were Marella Galace (Medical Assistant), Christine Mariano (CPR/First Aid), Gaylord Garcia (Prepared Speaking), Paige Cajudoy (Pharmacology), Vincent Magno (CPR/First Aid) and Brittany Treu (Job Seeking Skills).
"Stepping into the room filled with many unfamiliar faces was nerve-wracking to me. But meeting new people from Michigan, Florida, California, Nevada, Puerto Rico and many more states eased my tensed nerves, knowing that I wasn't the only one with jitters," said Treu.
Hawaii HOSA members earned recognition in 32 events, resulting in 17 top three medalists and 50 top ten finalists.
"These 67 students, who received their awards on stage, is a significant increase over the 37 from the previous year in Anaheim. Hawaii's future health professionals excelled in rigorous competition, participated in leadership development workshops and educational symposiums, and networked with students nationwide," noted Malia Shimomura, the LHS teacher who runs the Health Services Pathway.
Garo, a returning national qualifier, shared her knowledge and leadership skills throughout the school year with the LHS HOSA Chapter members.
She said, "I knew that everyone would have a kick out of this prestigious conference. I could only describe it in so many words. It was nice to see their reaction at the general session. I looked at all of them, smiled, and said 'I told you!' Words can only say so much, but actually experiencing it for yourself - now that's when you become speechless."
The LHS group experienced a ten-hour flight, the conference and visits to Orlando attractions, such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
"From the plane ride to the general sessions to the awards ceremony, attending the HOSA National Leadership Conference is definitely THE experience of a lifetime," said Mariano.
"We do not only gain skills, knowledge and practice, but we also gain inspiration and courage. It helped me develop leadership skills, gain educational experiences and also self-confidence. HOSA has changed my life and is making a difference. This was not only a journey but more an adventure."