A dozen Hopkinton High School students with aspirations of health care careers will be in Nashville, Tennessee, from June 22-25 to compete at the International Leadership Conference for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).
The students earned the honor by placing in the top three at the state competition and will face about 10,000 competitors from around the world at the event.
According to advisor Marjorie Billeter, the student-run organization was started at HHS in 2020 during the pandemic when she was approached by two students, Ishita Khurana and Prachi Meher.
They had researched the international organization, which has student memberships from middle school grades up to college-age and wanted to establish the activity at HHS.
“When they came in with such passion and a desire to learn more about health care, especially during a pandemic, I was excited to find a way to help move the club forward in a strong way,” said Billeter, an anatomy/physiology and chemistry teacher.
The group allows students to explore career development opportunities and encourages student-professional relationships in numerous health fields including dentistry, veterinary, medical technology, nursing and more.
Hopkinton’s HOSA chapter grew rapidly and currently has 62 members at the high school and 15 at the middle school. In addition to the HHS qualifiers, nine middle school students placed in the top three at the state level, although they will not be competing globally. Lauren Bailey-Jones is the advisor for the younger grades.
“It was very exciting to have such a great showing,” Billeter said.
She explained that at HOSA’s biweekly meetings, participants are instructed on CPR and first aid for severe trauma and hear from guest speakers in the industry. They held a Be the Match fundraiser to increase awareness about the bone marrow transplant registry and to encourage more people to become donors.
The members’ focus was also to prepare for competitive events.
Sophomore Nandita Ramesh was part of a team whose project placed first at the state level. The team prepared a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) about the importance of bone marrow donations. In addition to filming the PSA, the group aired the video to an audience of freshmen in a chemistry class as well as a junior anatomy class.
Ramesh is excited about the upcoming international competition. “I am looking forward to meeting talented students from different places who share similar aspirations and interests as me,” she said.
In addition, Ramesh said she wanted to build relationships with students from other schools and strengthen existing bonds with teammates and other club members.
Sophomore teammate Evanya Mathur noted that Massachusetts does not have a large HOSA presence compared to other states and she’s looking forward to seeing how the team’s PSA video compares at a global level. “It will be very helpful and exciting,” she said.
Co-founder Khurana, a junior, placed second in an individual event, clinical specialty, as well as for a team event for health education.
For the first category, she compiled a portfolio detailing her experience shadowing a cell therapy process engineer at Lykan Bioscience in Hopkinton and demonstrated a career-related skill, aseptic gowning, through a video submission.
Her team worked to organize introductory CPR and Stop the Bleed lessons for middle school students. They also offered supplemental emergency trainings for students looking to get certified.
In addition, Khurana qualified for a service award for health-related volunteering, both state and international.
Khurana said she finds health care “fascinating” because of the range of career options, including areas like medical assisting, hospital security and hospital management.
“I truly believe there is a career in health care for everyone,” she said. Her own interests are in medicine, particularly surgery.
She added, “The field is not perfect, however, and there are many systemic issues that negatively impact the treatment of both health care workers and patients — issues that I aim to address.”
In addition to competing at the Nashville event, students will have the opportunity to attend workshops, seminars, exhibits and other professional development activities.
Mathur said going into the medical field means a lot especially with the personal experience of having a grandfather with disabilities.
“Medicine is extremely fascinating beyond that as well,” Mathur said. “Not only the anatomical study, but also the connections you build, the relationships that you make and the meaningfulness of the work that you do.”
In addition to HOSA allowing Ramesh to explore her interest in medicine, “I’ve successfully learned the skill of communicating with teammates to complete tasks skillfully and efficiently,” she said.
Hopkinton HOSA is seeking individual and corporate sponsors to help students offset the costs of airfare, hotel and registration, Billeter said. Interested donors can contact her at mbilleter@hopkinton.K12.ma.us.
“It’s a pretty vibrant group,” Billeter said of the competitors. “They are so passionate, have intellectual curiosity and empathy,” all traits that will serve them well in their future professions.
Following are Hopkinton High School students’ results from the state competition:
Ishi Khurana, second place, clinical specialty
Srilakshmi Venkatesen, Noor Rana and Prisha Shrivastava, third place, health education team event
Prachi Meher, Ishi Khurana, Lindsay Hong and Kylie Skiba, second place, health education team event
Pranamya Keshkamat, third place, medical law and ethics
Prachi Meher, first place, medical math
Nandita Ramesh, Evanya Mathur, Vidya Narendra and Roma Tewari, first place, public service announcement
Hana Ruran, first place, research poster
Following are Hopkinton Middle School students’ results from the state competition:
Saanvi Mittal and Anabelle Castoreno, first place, health careers display
Leah Hong, first place, medical terminology
Ishan Patel, second place, medical terminology
Devanshi Agrawal, Neya Rajasingh and Aryan Shah, first place, public health team event
Tarvika Pratty and Harini Jayaraman, second place, public health team event