Josie Gomez wins medal at national HOSA contest
LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School Valedictorian Josie Gomez ended her high school career on a high note with a medal at the 33rd HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) National Leadership Conference.
Gomez finished third in the Medical Math event, and classmate Kevin Quitoriano placed fifth in the Extemporaneous Health Poster contest, at the competition held in Orlando, Florida, from June 22-27.
Hawaii HOSA’s delegation of 108 students, teachers and chaperones traveled to Orlando to compete with students from 46 states and Puerto Rico in 25 health-related and medical events. More than 7,000 people attended the conference.
Hawaii HOSA students shined in 16 events, resulting in 13 top three medals and 18 top ten finishes.
“Hawaii’s future health professionals excelled in rigorous competition, participated in leadership development workshops and educational symposiums, and networked with students nationwide,” noted LHS teacher Malia Shimomura, who leads the Health Services Pathway.
At Orlando, Gomez took a 75-question test — “one of the more difficult ones I have done so far,” she explained.
With 90 minutes on the clock, the test involved medical math conversions, finding IV flow rates and calculating patient drug dosages.
“My event, Medical Math, is a written test where you have 90 minutes to take a 75-question test. Every problem involves one or more mathematical calculations. In order to do the problems, you have to memorize numerous conversion formulas, such as metric to English unit conversions. I took a different test at each level (Maui, state and national), each one more difficult than the previous one,” she explained.
Several weeks before the national conference, Gomez began studying from a medical math book, completed practice problems in each chapter and practiced with review tests.
“After going through the entire book, I would have done about 600 medical math problems. After that, I practiced by doing the two medical math tests that I made in the past, and sometimes I will make up additional problems if I feel there is one area I particularly need to improve in,” Gomez said.
Attending the HOSA National Leadership Conference is exhilarating, Gomez said. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by more than 5,000 other people interested in healthcare, competitors make friends from around the country, and educational symposiums are geared toward students interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare field.
Gomez practiced hard and wanted to win.
“As for the competition aspect of the conference, it really motivates me to want to study hard so I can excel in my event. Personally, what really inspires me to want to win is the awards ceremony. While you are sitting there with 5,000 other students, you want nothing more than to hear your name called as a finalist and a winner in your event. If a student can take this drive and passion for succeeding with them while they are competing, then it becomes a very powerful force that will lead them to success,” Gomez commented.
“This was my third time competing in Medical Math at the national conference. The first year I placed tenth. The second year, I was trying to improve on that but did not place at all in the national competition. And so this year, I was more determined than ever to not only place in the top ten, but also in the top three. Knowing that it was my last chance to get a medal for Lahainaluna really motivated me to want to win this — not only for myself, but for my school, community and all the people who supported me along the way.”
Shimomura praised Gomez and Quitoriano for their commitment to HOSA as Lahainaluna students and their success at the national competition.
“I would really like to emphasize the success not only of this large group of LHS HOSA students that attended the national conference in Orlando, Florida, but would like to identify that this team has made a historical mark, as it has earned our first national medal and the state’s first national medal in this particular event,” she explained.
“Kevin and Josie are the only two that have been strongly engaged with HOSA since their sophomore year. They have both been HOSA chapter presidents, and Josie even helped run the district competition this year that was held at LHS.”
The daughter of Barbara Newton and Robert Gomez, Josie, 18, is heading to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
She plans to major in math or chemistry with a minor in music, and join the pre-med track to help her prepare for medical school.
Josie said her involvement in HOSA prepared her for the future by teaching her leadership, commitment and passion.
“By observing and experiencing the leadership of others, I began to hone my own leadership skills,” she said.
Through experiences — such as coordinating the Maui Regional HOSA Conference and leading her school’s HOSA chapter — and mentoring by Shimomura, Josie said her leadership skills improved immensely.
She learned commitment through competing in the Medical Math event, which requires diligent studying and practice.
“Along with commitment also comes perseverance and knowing that the satisfaction of putting forth my best effort is always worth it, whether I place or not. After three years of reaching for the same goal in the Medical Math competition, my perseverance has paid off, and I am grateful I was able to keep trying, because this one medal made it all worth it,” she said.
Finally, through HOSA, she gained passion for the healthcare field.
“Passion is the key to not only a successful career in healthcare, but also for a successful life. And it is through HOSA that I am able to garner this strong passion for the field that I will soon be a part of myself,” Josie concluded.