Viera junior Barai headed to international HOSA event


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Viera HIgh School junior Mrunal Barai (pictured with Viera teacher and HOSA advisor Frances Johnston) took first place in dental terminology at the state HOSA competition and will take part in the international competition this month.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of Frances Johnston

Shortly after taking the Dental Terminology test at this year’s HOSA state competition, Viera High School junior Mrunal Barai was asked by several classmates how badly he wanted to advance to the international event … on a scale from 1 to 10.

“I said, ‘25,’ ” Barai recalled.

Twenty-five it is.

Barai not only qualified for the international competition that will be held from June 19 to 22, he became the first Viera student to win a state-level competition at the Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, (HOSA).

It was only the second year the Viera team, led by Viera teacher and HOSA advisor Frances Johnston, had competed in the state event. Last year, Pritom “Peter” Karmaker finished second in the state, also in Dental Terminology, and went on to finish 11th at nationals.

Barai said he was pretty confident he did well on the test because he had studied hard for the written exam which asked competitors to recognize, identify, define, interpret and apply dental terms in a 100-item multiple choice test that also featured 20 tie-breaker questions.

Just a year earlier, Barai had competed in the Dental Spelling category, but admittedly did not study as hard and did not make it to the state. This year, he not only changed categories, he changed his entire approach.

“There’s this moment when it clicks in your mind that you have to do something,” he said. “My mom tells me all the time, to achieve it, you have to realize it. So, once you realize that you have to do this, you work hard toward it, and you reach your goal.

“My mom keeps telling me if you realize it earlier, the better it will be for you because then you know how to plan your schedule of what you’re going to do over time.”

Barai planned to give himself at least a month to study before heading to the 42nd annual International Leadership Conference, which will take place at Disney World’s Coronado Springs.

Barai is aiming high.

“I would say the competition level has tripled or quadrupled,” he said. “Everyone wants a spot to be recognized as one of the top 10 in the world, and so do I.

“I have my book ready. I’m going to start studying soon. So, I have a month (or so) to prepare everything, refresh everything in my mind, and hopefully score at internationals. Mrs. J. tells me I have to score.

“She tells me don’t even think about the top 10, just study and get first. She knows I can do it. She tells me I can do it. Same with my mom and dad. They say (I) have the determination, so go for it.”