Nyssa HOSA chapter wins international award

The Nyssa High School chapter of HOSA-Future Health Professionals was dubbed the top program internationally for public service by the American Red Cross.

Aundra DeWitt, Nyssa HOSA chapter co-adviser and school nurse, said Nyssa’s chapter won the award at the International HOSA Leadership Conference in Houston last month.

The program prepares students for health care careers.

DeWitt, who advises the chapter along with Tracee Watts, said the Nyssa students held two blood drives, conducted a CPR class with the Red Cross, created a video promoting blood drives in Malheur County, and participated in other training with the organization.

She said Nyssa’s HOSA program put in more than 250 hours of service with the Red Cross this year.

Along with the award, Nyssa’s chapter of HOSA won a $3,000 scholarship to be applied to the program.  DeWitt said the video the students produced won a third-place award that brought in another $250 scholarship for the school’s program.

“We were blown away that we got the top award,” DeWitt said.

While DeWitt said she was not sure of the total number of schools worldwide that were considered, she said seven other chapters at the Houston conference were vying for the honors.

Ryan Hawkins, Nyssa’s superintendent, said it’s significant that the district’s chapter has been honored internationally.

“This is Olympic level,” he said. “I’m so proud of these kids.”

DeWitt said the award is a “game-changer” for the program.

“The fire that it creates for these kids to keep going is amazing,” she said.

DeWitt said the students rallied, came together, and collectively collaborated around a nationwide shortage of blood donations, which has an impact locally. That, she said, is what makes the award all the more special.

“They did it because of the good stuff they were doing and donating their time helping with the blood cause,” she said.

DeWitt said most people don’t realize the magnitude of the blood shortage in the state and across the country.

“We’re one major car wreck from running out of our blood supply,” she said.

DeWitt said the training with the American Red Cross exposed the students to the stark reality of the blood shortage.

While the honors are a win for the HOSA students, she also sees it as a win for Nyssa. For instance, she said, the students’ video featured community members not directly affiliated with the school district.

“They were under no obligation to help,” she said. “And they were just willing to jump in and help in a video representing the community.”

The video also featured nine languages spoken in Nyssa, raising awareness of the wide impact of the blood shortage.

“It’s fantastic that we were able to do that,” DeWitt said.

Watts said the students in HOSA gain insights into health care careers through guest speakers in the industry and tours of doctors’ offices and hospitals. 

According to the HOSA website, the international student organization includes middle school, high school and college students, alumni and other health care professionals.

The local club has few to 30 students this year, up from 12 in 2022.


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