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Tech Center students triumph at HOSA, head to state

Group prepares to compete in Traverse City in April

Kent ISD — The six-member Kent Career Tech Center team felt they had a good mental health promotion project, which was affirmed when they took first place in their category at the Health Occupations Student of America (HOSA) – Future Health Professionals regional competition at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Members of the team, made up of Comstock Park, Grandville, East Kentwood and Kenowa Hills students, were among more than 100 students from the Kent Career Tech Center’s Health Sciences program who attended the regional competition in January. It was one of the largest groups the Tech Center has sent to the annual event in the past five years, according to Beth O’Donnell, a Tech Center health occupations instructor. 

The group also hit another record by having the largest number of students, about 55, qualify for the Michigan HOSA competition, set for April 18 and 19 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City.

Students compete in various events showcasing their passion and understanding of the health-care field. They have to be creative, show initiative and demonstrate proficiency in the contest they have chosen, O’Donnell said. There are scholarships available, networking opportunities with students and professionals, programs and guest speakers.

The competition gives the students leadership opportunities that go above and beyond what they find in the classroom, O’Donnell said. 

Taking first place in the mental health promotion category were, from left, Comstock Park junior MiKayla Cook, Grandville junior Cherish Hardin, East Kentwood juniors Amari Mcclanahan and Sifa Mulebinge, Grandville junior Yelianeth Ramos-Rivera and Kenowa Hills junior Bryonna Arnold

Coming Together with a Message

East Kentwood 11th-grader Sifa Mulebinge said the Tech Center team came together with the common goal to create awareness about how everyone has been touched by mental health issues.

“I know I wanted to normalize it because it is so bad to suffer alone,” Sifa said. “We wanted to create a platform where students could talk about (mental health) and show their support so students could see that others were impacted as well.”

The group decided to host an in-school campaign at the Tech Center where they set out different colored ribbons representing mental health issues, such as green for depression, teal for anxiety and red for addiction. 

“Students or staff could pick up a ribbon for themselves or to show support for someone who had faced that mental health issue, tying the ribbon on to their backpack,” Sifa said.

Along with the in-school campaign, the students are working to host a podcast, having students talk about mental health challenges they faced. They also have an Instagram page, YouthBoothHOSA, where they post about mental health. 

“Since we are all 11th-graders, I believe our hope is to keep the project going and hopefully continue to create awareness,” said Grandville junior Yelianeth Ramos.

Potter’s House junior Abby Tuls, left, participated in medical spelling, while Tri County junior Alexis Kidder, Potter’s House junior Kendall Wilson and Grandville junior Natalie Johnson participated in health education

Meeting Others with Similar Interests

For Kelloggsville 12th-grader Kennedy Clark, the opportunity to attend the HOSA competition was a chance to hone in on her skills. 

“I thought it would get me more prepared because, for the nurse tech program for the Tech Center, we take a certification test at the end of the year,” Kennedy said. “Basically, this is almost a mock kind of test. So I wanted to do it to start getting prepared. Am I going to be good with this material? Am I going to need to study more?”

But she had nothing to worry about at HOSA, placing first in the nursing assistant category.

“I am so thankful I did it,” Kennedy said. “Just talking to other kids in other health professions (or) other tech centers about what you are doing at your tech center and what do you want to do for a career – the atmosphere was so much fun.”

Juniors Natalie Johnson of Grandville and Alexis Kidder of Tri County competed in the health education category in the morning, which gave them time to talk to other students, watch others compete and explore the KVCC campus. Their third-place finish also gave them a ticket to the state competition.

Natalie said she believed they did well because of the uniqueness of their topic, dyslexia, a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.

“We picked the topic because we just feel like it wasn’t talked about a lot, especially for how much of the population it affects,” said Kendall Wilson, an 11th-grader at The Potter’s House High School. 

Potter’s House 11th-grader Abby Tuls thought she was pretty well prepared for her competition in medical spelling.

“I was kind of expecting medical terminology, kind of what we’re learning at the Tech Center,” Abby said. “But it was a lot broader than I thought. They asked questions about cattle diseases and things like that that I wasn’t expecting, so it was harder in that sense, but there were some words that I was ready for as well.”

Abby said she felt the HOSA experience was a unique one and she enjoyed meeting other students with similar interests in the health field. 

Read more from Kent ISD: 
Tech Center introduces virtual anatomy table
The goal: to help people

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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