HOSA leader guides the healthcare of tomorrow

Standing behind a lectern, senior Lada Lerdsuwanrut prepares to speak to a crowd composed of state officers and fellow Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) members. Though she is nervous about speaking to the large audience, the fact that she is able to share her passion for the club with others excites her.

Lerdsuwanrut, who has been involved in HOSA since sophomore year, initially joined the organization to further her knowledge in sports medicine. HOSA is an international career and technical organization dedicated to helping students prepare for careers related to health sciences.

“What inspired me to join HOSA was me questioning myself, ‘Where do I want to fit in?’” Lerdsuwanrut said. “I navigated my academic career towards Sports Medicine, so I wanted to further my understanding of medicine.”

She found a passion for leadership during her first State Leadership Conference. State Conferences allow students who are interested in the medical field to come together and grow as leaders. Students are overall offered opportunities to develop their interest in the medical field, whether that be participating in hands-on activities or providing information about career paths. Members also compete during conferences, either individually or as a group.  Lerdsuwanrut has participated in several sectors of competitions during HOSA’s state leadership conferences.

“From these conferences, I really learned to appreciate the connections I was able to make with people,” Lerdsuwanrut said. “HOSA has been a way I’ve connected with people and networked and [made] memories I know I’ll keep for a lifetime.”

Lerdsuwanrut has competed in biomedical debate for the past years she’s been in HOSA. Her team devotes several weekends to researching its topic and formulating arguments.

“When we’re at the conference, it’s a lot of fun to compete with the team and get to know everyone.” Lerdsuwanrut said. “When we’re competing, there’s definitely a lot of nervous energy, but at the end of the day, we’re very comfortable with one another.”

Inspired by the HOSA delegates’ speeches and display of leadership, Lerdsuwanrut decided to apply for the position of State Parliamentarian the following summer of 2018. However, to be considered for the application, she was required to score at least an 80 percent on a test based on HOSA history and parliamentary procedure.

“I saw the way the state officers worked the previous year — the passion they had for HOSA,” Lerdsuwanrut said. “I shared that passion, so immediately that following summer I pursued campaigning for State Officer.”

After passing the test came the next stage: making a two to four minute video to convince all the HOSA board members she was the right candidate for the position. Lerdsuwanrut incorporated aspects of humor and personality into her video.

“I wasn’t trying to sell anything that wasn’t me just to get votes.  People appreciate it [when you’re] showing a genuine side of yourself.” Lerdsuwanrut said.

After the campaign, Lerdsuwanrut ended up receiving a majority of the vote and earned the position of state parliamentarian.

“I was definitely really happy for getting the position. I know I deserved it, and I spent a lot of sleepless nights over it, so I really appreciate my [campaign] team for supporting me during my campaign.” Lerdsuwanrut said.

Her job entails communicating with the state officers, controlling executive operations of California HOSA and working with students from all over California to provide more opportunities for them in the medical field. In addition, Lerdsuwanrut runs HOSA’s social media accounts and works with the board of directors to create proposals for the state.

“HOSA to me has been a way to develop my passion for the medical field. I’ve connected and networked with people and made memories I know I’ll keep for a lifetime. This is the way that I devoted my time in high school. This is the time I’ve devoted myself. This is the future I’ve set up for myself. Through HOSA opportunities, I’ve just made ways to better myself,” Lerdsuwanrut said.

One aspect of the job is traveling across the United States to attend conferences. State officers, including the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and state parliamentarian, take four national trips every year. During these trips, officers are educated on proficiency to improve their state’s sector of HOSA.

“We really focus on the student experience we provide in our conferences, and that’s one of the main focuses of a state officer: creating change within the people that you meet at your state leadership conferences and the experience that you give them,” Lerdsuwanrut said.

Lerdsuwanrut has worked with several officials to carry out HOSA’s vision: to be of service to the community. Last year, HOSA officers flew to Capital Hill and met with Congressman Gil Cisneros to brainstorm the Perkins Act. The act was enacted to increase learner access to high-quality CTE programs of study for students who have educational needs.

“One of the qualities you need to have is you need to be able to open up and be a ‘people person’. You have to be humble when you’re working with the members and be a liaison for them so you fairly represent every person in the organization,” Lerdsuwanrut said.

Lerdsuwanrut plans to pursue a future in public health either as a health administrator or as a medical lawyer.

“Leadership is something I want to incorporate for the rest of my life, and I definitely have a passion for public speaking.” Lerdsuwanrut said. “I think that’s the way I can influence the healthcare field: to make it better quality for everyone.”

By Alex Santiago, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Lada Lerdsuwanrut