• students with a teacher smiling

      CIS HOSA Team Members (L-R) Valeria Martinez, Isaiah Nemorebeltran, Eva Hakobyan and Sadie Morales and their Advisor Mrs. Curtin (Photo – Scott Phelps)

      Debbie Curtin, my colleague at Pasadena Unified’s Center for Independent Study (CIS) teaches Medical Arts to all CIS middle schoolers, and she advises the CIS Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) team.

      By Scott Phelps

      Debbie Curtin said that seven of the eight team members participated in the state HOSA competition held March 23-25, 2023 in Sacramento.  There were 4,000 students at the competition. The CIS middle school students earned 3rd place in the whole state of California!

      HOSA Competitions

      Each student competed in at least two categories.  CIS 9th grader Sadie Morales entered the CPR/First Aid competition as a team with CIS 11th grader Valeria Martinez and also a Pathophysiology competition. Valeria also got to the second round in the Medical Terminology competition.

      Evelina Hakobyan (Eva) did the Health Exploration test and entered a team competition with middle schoolers Isaiah Nemorebeltran and Carissa Romero, on Public Health, with a theme of Heart Healthy. They won 3rd place in the state of California!!  The State only recognizes the top 5 teams. Eva said “Whenever we got called, it was amazing.  My heart started beating so fast, and I wanted to cry, but I controlled myself. I was nervous and excited at the same time.”

      The middle school team’s award-winning presentation

      The team used Canva to decorate their presentation slides. They also had to record a video on how to perform CPR with a dummy. Isaiah had the idea to add into the presentation that on January 2, 2023, Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during an NFL game: “We decided to add it because it had something to do with the heart. We added it in the beginning to show how anyone can be at risk of any heart dangers.”

      Then Eva and Carissa made a slide show about how to do respiration and compression. They had to do it in person at the HOSA competition: “We were the first ones to present. We were super nervous, but we were very organized as a team. We made sure everybody’s slide show was stacked up. We printed them on paper and held them up. We organized that; we did lots of teamwork, and I think that’s what mainly got us into third place.” Isaiah said, “We didn’t mess up. There weren’t really any problems with us.” Eva: “I was super happy with Carissa, because she would be the one to laugh.” Valeria said “I am proud of the middle schoolers for winning 3rd place in the state of California.  They worked hard, and it showed.”

      Looking towards the future

      Valeria said “My plan is to become a surgeon. Go to college, go to med school and train to become a surgeon. So I really like health care occupations.  I am currently doing an internship at Huntington Hospital in the pediatric department, and I am about to start in the surgery waiting room department.” She does that every Monday.

      Sadie: “I started in HOSA last year, in 8th grade. I started because when I get older I want to be a nurse. My aunt is a nurse. The type of nurse I want to be is I want to work with older people, in geriatric care. I used to take care of my grandma when I was younger and that kind of just stuck to me.”

      Eva said “This is my first year in HOSA. I am still deciding. I have a long time to decide. I really like HOSA because it’s a very good program for kids who are interested in the health field.  It gives everybody an opportunity to get a chance of what they want to be in the future.  Maybe it was a dream of theirs to be something in the health field, and HOSA is a really good program and helps a lot of kids.”

      Isaiah: “I started this year in HOSA.  For the future, I want to go into the technology field, any health careers related to technology because I am kind of a tech geek, perhaps into IT related to health care.“

      O O O

      Students watching instructions

      CIS HOSA team members Matthew Gonzalez, Eva Hakobyan, Isaiah Nemorebeltran and Sadie Morales viewing 3D Anatomy (Photo – Scott Phelps)

      Pasadena CIS Students Win Summer Scholarships

      Valeria Martinez, a junior, and CIS seniors Matthew Gonzalez and Anthony Romero received great news in the Sacramento airport as they were leaving the state Health Occupations Students of America competition March 25. Valeria explained: “We each won a $1000 scholarship for an internship during the summer in Washington, D. C. at Georgetown University.  I will be doing an internship in neuroscience. Matthew will be doing one in law, and Anthony will be doing one in public health. It’s a one-week internship. Out of 13,000 applicants across the U. S., less than 1,000 get accepted every year.  I have never been to Washington, D. C.” Valeria doubts there will be time for sightseeing as they will be very busy.  Her week will be 7/23-7/29.  All three have different weeks. Only 20 from the state HOSA got accepted, so CIS students earned 15% of the scholarships awarded in the state!

      O O O

      Away from Home for the First Time

      Eva Hakobyan said “I want to say thank you to the CIS Academy for helping us out, whether it was Principal Mr. Torres, Mrs. Curtin, and Mr. Slominski for printing out our papers. Thank you very much. We wouldn’t have made 3rd place without you guys. We appreciate your hard work and help. I would like to thank the high schoolers also for judging us and giving us advice.  Thank you guys. Thank you to (CIS alumna) Angela for also helping us out, whether it was with recording them, or telling us how we could make our presentation better, she has been a very big help. I want to say thank you to her as well. And everybody else at CIS!”

      They had a good time. Sadie enjoyed it. Old Town Sacramento had an old-time car show.  She said it was her first time being away from her family for that long, and also going on a plane. Isaiah said “It was an interesting first time experience for me. I’ve never been really far away, to go on a trip like this. It was pretty good. It was my first time on a plane. I am scared of heights but the view down there was amazing.”  Mrs. Curtin: “These kids even ran 20 flights of stairs to get where they needed to be at a certain time.” Valeria: “Down and up 20 flights of stairs.  Down to get to one of our competitions and then up to get back to the hotel room because it was just too crowded on the elevators. We went up to go change for the talent show.  Everyone was rushing to get to their hotel rooms; that’s why it was crowded.  We were rushing.” Valeria even ran in heels despite wearing them for the first time. They had to run up to change into the second uniform for the next event and go back down to the event.  Eva: “It was my first time being away from my family.  I would like to thank them because they were super careful about my safety. I had my grandparents call me, my Mom, my Dad.” Mrs. Curtin: “Matter of fact, your Dad said the only reason he was letting you go was because Mr. Curtin was going. He’s a former police officer, so her father said she can go.  He is also a HOSA advisor for CIS.” Eva: “It was very nice to see the students from around the state.  There were a lot of kids, a lot of noise.  There were a lot of kids cheering for their schools for the awards ceremony.  It was very, very loud, you could barely talk to someone.” The last awards ceremony was the best, because we did have people that were loud, but they were really supportive. They cheered us on; they were super nice. We had people cheering for us; other schools were cheering for us.”


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      1. Ella says:

        What a beautiful story. My heart was beating do hard as a read the story. Congratulations to all you!!!

      2. Jennifer Hall Lee says:

        Congratulations to all! Thanks for sharing this great news!

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