Beulah High Student to compete for state HOSA leadership office

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Coming from a small community, Clara Burke didn’t know what to expect when she applied for her club’s state leadership office. This week the Beulah High School student will compete in the top four in the state for Health Occupations Students of America state officer. 

Burke is the first student from Beulah High School to compete in the state officer competition at least since 2006.

“We have no records indicating Beulah High has ever had a HOSA state officer, so we are thrilled for this amazing opportunity for Clara to represent HOSA at the state level,” Health Science Instructor and HOSA Advisor Brittini Clements said. 

Email newsletter signup

On March 2 and 3, Burke will present her campaign speech at the Alabama HOSA State Leadership Conference. There will be 3,219 students attending. Four of the six state officer candidates will be chosen and announced on Thursday evening.

Burke has always wanted to do something in a health-related field. A hard working student, she is in dual enrollment at University of South Alabama and has her sights set on criminal psychology. 

She joined HOSA in her freshman year and soon grew to love it.  She and her friends volunteer for events around the community like the annual Health Day at the elementary school. During the event, Burke set up a nutrition station for the younger students.

“With the organization, I’ve gained friendships. I’ve gained so much experience, so many memories, like really fond memories,” Burke said. “It’s fun to get involved in your community in the way that we do.”

After a visit from one of the state officers last year, Clements encouraged Burke to apply to the competition. Though she was nervous, she jumped head first into the process.

“I want to encourage others in the way I was to be their best self, and don’t be afraid to go for it, especially people from smaller communities,” Burke said. “Because there’s so many people that can be something huge, but they just feel like they can’t because of where they’re from.”

Burke was among 14 other state candidates to qualify to advance. On Dec. 7, she passed a state qualifying test in the top 10. Next was a pre-state interview. To prepare, Burke did mock interviews with Auburn University. 

According to Burke, the interview only lasted for nine minutes. Though it was nerve wracking, Burke said the experience has been a helpful one.

“It’s preparing me for that professional world I want to be in,” she said. 

However, when Burke saw herself on the website next to the other finalists, she feared that she was out of her depth.

“Beulah is a new school to this,” Burke said. “There’s other larger schools. It’s like the same schools over and over that have state officers, so they pretty much know how it works — what’s gonna happen. And as for me, I did not.”

Luckily, the judges didn’t think so. Two weeks ago, HOSA state leaders announced that Burke had qualified in the top six candidates. If Burke is chosen for one of the offices on Thursday, she will have new responsibilities like visiting schools around the state and planning projects, workshops and conferences.

“I’m so proud of her,” Clements said. “She definitely deserves the praise.”

In addition to the state officer competition, Burke will be participating in the forensic science competition. The conference will host over 45 competitions during the two days. Some of the other competitions will be medical math, pharmacy science, veterinary science, CPR/first aid, sports medicine and biomedical debate. Students who win the state competitions this week will move on to the HOSA International Conference in Texas in June. 

According to an Alabama Department of Education press release, HOSA or Future Health Professionals is a student organization that works to develop leadership and competencies for students enrolled in health science programs. The global organization has over 250,000 members, aiming to promote career opportunities and career readiness in the medical field.