HOSA Club members surprise themselves at first competition


Viera High defies the odds to excel in Future Health Professionals (HOSA) competition.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of Viera High


A group of 21 Viera High students walked into Deltona High School last month. They were outnumbered. They were nervous.

This was, after all, the first time they’d ever been to a Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, (HOSA) competition. And they were a first-year club, going against other schools, like Deltona, which had 165 entrants, or Rockledge, which had a history of dominating one particular category.

Subjects for the competition varied. Some students already had taken tests about their knowledge and were simply there to find out if and where they had placed. Others had to come with displays or videos they had made and present them to judges.

There was no way, they thought, they would place very high.

Heck, club president Taylor Conway said she and her teammates Nivetha Aravind and Catelyn Cowart weren’t even sure what they were going to say 15 minutes before they walked in to make their presentation on Public Service Announcements.

With 14 people in their Health Occupations Display category, Viera HOSA club vice president Jayla Mercer and her friend, Hannah Levi, were saying they would be happy if they finished 12th.

So imagine their surprise when … they won the whole dang thing.

“I threw my phone on accident,” Mercer laughed.

Levi, meanwhile, just started running. And running.

Conway already was on stage when it was announced that she, Aravind and Cowart had won their category (which had three teams entered), one which Rockledge had dominated for years.

“I was just expecting to get third (because) it was our first time. I just made eye contact with Nivetha and Catelyn and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we actually won this!’ ” Conway said. “It was pretty cool.”

Of the 21 Viera students who entered, 14 of them placed.

Peter Karmaker was first in Dental Terminolgy. Erin Cleaver finished second.

Estephania Esparza and Karen Bowen took second in Forensic Medicine. Other second-place finishers were Gina Denton (Pathophysiology) and Mackenzie Downie (Pharmacology).

Finishing in third were Michael Brady (Medical Math); Delaney Betsinger (Nutrition) and Mrunal Barai (Medical Spelling).

The top three in each category advance to the state competition, which is set for April 5 to 8 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, with a possible trip to Texas for the nationals in the offering.

That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a club that was started by Conway under the supervision of faculty advisor Frances Johnston.

Conway said she got the idea to form Viera’s only medical-related club while taking Johnston’s Dental Science 2 class and reading about HOSA in a text book. She liked the idea that it can give students a real-world glimpse into what it would be like to have a career in the medical field.

This year, they have had a number of guest speakers, including a nurse and an X-ray technician, talk to the students about their careers.

The club is trying to raise money for its trip to the state competition. Anyone interesting in helping out can contact the club at vierahighhosa@gmail.com.