“This is a great opportunity to get experience outside the classroom.”
That’s how Will Salter, 17, a junior at Brandon High School, described his experience after he completed a sports medicine skills test. Salter was one of more than 600 high school students from across Central Mississippi who came to Meridian Community College on Saturday, Jan. 26, to compete in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Mississippi Central District Leadership Conference.
Salter aspires to become an athletic trainer and Saturday’s events served as a way to hone his skills. Dr. Richie McAlister, associate vice president for workforce education at MCC, said 29 secondary schools were represented at this future health professionals event which is themed, “Define Your Purpose.”
“This competition gives the students a platform to compete and display their skills, and the big advantage of it is that it advances the quality of health care. It helps them stay focused on their health care career goals,” McAlister said.
Morton High School students Madison Crotwell and Kylee Test agreed that the competition offered the chance to learn more about health care. The two created a health display that explained the facts and benefits of travel nursing. Both students want to become travel nurses.
“They all put forth a good effort,” said George Arinder, clinical coordinator of Radiologic Technology Program at MCC and a volunteer worker at Saturday’s HOSA competition, about the high school students. By participating in this HOSA event, Arinder said, the students get a better understanding of what they will experience in the professional arena.
Jayla Smith, 16, a Northeast Lauderdale High School student, was confident after she competed in the Interviewing Skills contest. “I did some mock interviews before, so I feel like I did well. You’ve got to keep a positive attitude and keep smiling,” she said. Another Northeast student, Tyler Smith, 17, who was competing in the Prepared Speaking contest, said of HOSA, “It gives you experience on your future.”
The top five winners in each of the categories, which range from medical spelling to nurse assisting to veterinary assisting and creative problem solving, will advance to the state HOSA competition which is set for later in the spring in Jackson.
MCC has hosted the Central Mississippi HOSA competition for more than two decades. Lori Smith, MCC College, and Career Planning coordinator and Work-based Learning instructor, is the coordinator of this HOSA event.