Spira, Viera High peers display brilliance at regional academic event in Deltona

Members of Viera High School's HOSA Club pose with their first-place ribbon after taking first place in the Forensic Science category. Overall, 28 students finished in the top five with nine of them finishing in first place.

Jordan Spira has always been interested in learning about different countries, cultures and languages.

So, when the Viera High School senior found out there was a Cultural Diversities and Disparities category in this year’s HOSA competition, she jumped at the chance to take part.

Score one for Spira.

She was one of nine Viera High students to finish in first place, and one of 28 individuals to place among the top five in various categories at the Space Coast Region Regional Conference held this year on Jan. 11 at Deltona High School.

The state competition for Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, (HOSA), is set to take place April 2 to 5 at the Marriott Orlando World Center.

"I was pretty surprised when I found out I had placed first — the adrenaline definitely surged," Spira wrote in an email. "I think whenever you compete in anything, whether it be an academic competition, sports match or even just a simple graded exam, there is always a possibility that someone studied or trained just that much harder than you, so you never really know where you'll end up on the scoreboard. But I also think that's also the beauty of competition.

"In this case, however, my background in learning almost obsessively about other cultures for the past couple of years and my efforts in working toward fluency in Spanish have paid off, especially because the only reason I knew a couple of the answers is because they were in Spanish."

The test was taken in the school’s computer lab prior to the regional conference. Spira said she answered roughly 100 multiple-choice questions and another that had a short answer.

The Cultural Diversities and Disparities category tested student’s knowledge about healthcare in different cultures and regions.

A goalkeeper on Viera High’s girls soccer team, as well as Space Coast United Soccer, Spira was at a game on the day of the awards ceremony. A friend sent her a video of her name being called.

Other winners included: Brooke Drier (Behavioral Health); Mrunal Barai (Dental Terminology); Gabrielle Fleisher (Human Growth & Development); Julia Walker (Medical Law & Ethics); Bailey Bernard (Nutrition); Ryan Luciani (Pathophysiology); Anna Metz (Pharmacology) and the team of Mackenzie Downie and Estefania Esparza (Forensic Science).

Also placing were Kennedy Hewitt and Gina Denton (both placed third in Behavioral Health); Gabriella Flora (fifth in Cultural Diversities & Disparities); Mia Bieringer (second in Cultural Diversities & Disparities); Macy Billingsley (third in Dental Terminology); Sara Barsoum (second in Dental Terminology); Katie Stegner (fifth in Human Growth & Development) and Hailey Johns (third in Human Growth & Development).

Others who placed were: Amy Dukeshire (second in Medical Law & Ethics); Adrienne Denton (third in Nutrition); Jeremie Feldman (third in Pathophysiology); Cara Celestini (fourth in Epidemiology); Alyssa Lovi and Reilly Roberts (second in Community Awareness); Mackenzie Bronson, Talorie Crafton, Emma Jimenez and Lanie Mullowney (second in Public Service Announcement).

Last year, Barai became the first Viera High student to win at the state level and advance to the international competition.

Spira is excited about going to the state meet, particularly one of her best friends — Bernard —  whom she met during an AP class her freshman year.

While her career plans are to go into law, Spira recommends the HOSA club to anyone interested in getting into the medical field. Although she only competed for one year, it certainly had a big impact.

"I’m not sure which field of law I want to go into yet, but I will ensure that it definitely has an international component to it," Spira wrote. "Competing in HOSA this year, while my category was not directly related to law, definitely reassured me of the fact that I'm going in the right direction by studying something international.

"I’m really excited because placing first in my category really reinforced the idea that I can do something professional with my passions."