UH West Oʻahu students, faculty represent well at leadership conference for future health professionals

Ardena Thompson

UH West Oʻahu student Ardena Thompson placed first in an epidemiology competition at the Hawaiʻi HOSA State Leadership Conference.

UH West Oʻahu was well represented at the Hawaiʻi HOSA State Leadership Conference – an event for future health professionals held Feb. 26 and 27 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center – with one student winning first place in an epidemiology competition and two faculty members among the featured guest speakers.

HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupation Students of America and now known as HOSA: Future Health Professionals, is an international, student-led organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Hawaiʻi HOSA consists of more than 1,200 members representing 32 chapters from Hawaiʻi’s high schools and postsecondary institutions. It provides opportunities for students to develop character and apply leadership skills within the context of the healthcare industry, according to its website. Hawaiʻi HOSA also gives an avenue for students interested in health and medical careers to demonstrate their understanding of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are expected in such a demanding field.

The highlight of Hawaii HOSA is the State Leadership Conference, where hundreds of students from all the local chapters compete in various areas needed for entry into the healthcare field, interact with numerous health professionals who are also in attendance, and attend educational symposiums covering a wide spectrum of students’ interests in the medical field ranging from nursing to forensics.

Two UH West Oʻahu students competed at this yearʻs conference. Ardena Thompson, 20, placed first in an epidemiology competition, which involved a written examination of concepts related to the study of epidemiology. Individual competitors were expected to recognize, identify, define, interpret, and apply these concepts in a 75-item multiple choice test, from select websites.

“When I found out I won, I was honestly really shocked,” said Thompson, who is majoring in public administration with a concentration in community health.

Student Sierra Furukawa also competed at the conference and placed fourth in a medical terminology competition.

Group photo of Dr. Ric Custodio, Sierra Furukawa and Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt.

UH West Oʻahu student Sierra Furukawa (center) placed fourth in a medical terminology competition at the Hawaiʻi HOSA State Leadership Conference. Furukawa is with UH West Oʻahu faculty and conference speakers Dr. Ric Custodio (left) and Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt.

In addition to UH West Oʻahu student competitors Thompson and Furukawa, faculty members Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt and Dr. Ric Custodio participated in the State Leadership Conference. Dr. Graham-Tutt, assistant professor of community health, and Dr. Custodio, pediatrician and associate professor of health science, were invited session speakers during the conferenceʻs educational symposium.

Dr. Graham-Tutt presented “The Power of You: Tips on Enhancing Your Journey into a STEM,” in which she encouraged students to “learn how the value of being you, your background, and your individualism can be used to inform your journey in STEM,” she said.

That was followed by Dr. Custodioʻs session, “Keeping the Faith—The Power of Perseverance.” Dr. Custodio shared with students humorous and inspiring stories of never giving up on their aspirations to become a healthcare professional.

Dr. Ric Custodio and Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt

Dr. Ric Custodio and Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt were speakers at the Hawaiʻi HOSA State Leadership Conference.

“Overall, students from UH West Oʻahu were thrilled to attend HOSA and can’t wait to share more about their experience with fellow students,” Dr. Graham-Tutt said.

Thompson agreed.

“The overall conference was very informative, and the overall experience was definitely one that I really thought opened a lot of people who shared an interest in health to one another,” Thompson said.

Images courtesy of Ardena Thompson and Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt