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Rockwood Students, Graduates Earn Recognition at HOSA International Leadership Conference

  The 15 Rockwood students who earned recognition at the HOSA International Leadership ConferenceA total of 15 Rockwood students and recent graduates earned top-10 finishes in their categories and other recognition at the HOSA-Future Health Professionals International Leadership Conference, which was held in Nashville, Tennessee, in June.

Rockwood’s top-10 finishers were:

  • Sujay Vadderaju*, Marquette High (first in the Physics College and 10th in the Organic Chemistry Academic Testing Center tests)
  • Cassie Sun, Marquette (second in the Research Poster competitive event)
  • Ritika Jagarlamudi, Marquette (third in the Medical Assisting event)
  • Sonya Sud, Lafayette High (third in the Family Medicine Career Test)
  • Adwyta Chelikavada, Sarah Ebenezer, and Sud, Lafayette (fifth in the Creative Problem Solving team event)
  • Pragnatha Galla, Daniella Jayaraj and Samika Kumbham, Lafayette (fifth in the Public Health team event)
  • Aditya Gunturu, Marquette (fifth in the Allied Health Statistics test)
  • Kendall Hirte, Eureka High (fifth in the Human Growth and Development event)
  • Aneesh Batchu*, Marquette (sixth in the Physics College test)
  • Batchu*, Pragun Khullar*, Vadderaju* and Supraneeth Yedem*, Marquette (sixth in the HOSA Bowl team event)

(* - 2022 Rockwood graduate)

In addition, Jagarlamudi (silver) and Lafayette's Tejasvini Kadiyala (bronze) earned the Barbara James Service Award, Lafayette’s HOSA chapter earned the Merit level for the HOSA Service Project Award, and Missouri HOSA was one of four state chapters to earn an Outstanding Achievement award.

More than 10,000 people from around the world attended the HOSA event, which was truly a transformative experience for our Rockwood students. Here are three of the students’ reflections on their time at the Leadership Conference.


Kendall Hirte, Eureka
A Rockwood student smiles at a convention center at the HOSA International Leadership ConferenceIn her Human Growth and Development event, Hirte received three books to study, then she took an examination to test her knowledge on the material.

The books covered just about anything a human could experience in their lifespan: biological changes, cognitive changes, developmental changes, illnesses and more. Hirte was already grateful for the opportunity to learn and interact with fellow students who share her interests that the conference offered, before the awards ceremony even took place.

Then she saw her name flash on the screen as a top-10 finisher.

“I looked at my mom, and my jaw just dropped,” Hirte said. “It was really exciting and emotional. It was just a very special moment, for sure.”

Hirte plans to attend Missouri Baptist University after graduation, with an eye toward graduate school. She is not sure which medical field she would like to pursue, but her experience in HOSA has helped broaden her general science knowledge as well as teaching her how to study more efficiently, a trait she knows will come in handy in medical school.

She was the only member of the Eureka High HOSA chapter to qualify for the international competition this year, but she is hoping she will have company this upcoming summer.

“HOSA has been really great and blossomed into a lot of fun memories and community service opportunities,” Hirte said. 


Sonya Sud, Lafayette
A Rockwood student smiles at a convention center at the HOSA International Leadership ConferenceHaving already qualified for the Leadership Conference in a team event, Sud decided to test her knowledge against other students in the Family Medicine Career multiple-choice test.

Sud felt she already had a fairly strong knowledge base in the topic, as her father is a family physician.

“He talks a lot at home about work,” she said. “I ended up getting third place, which was surprising because I really just went off of everything I’ve heard my dad talk about at home. That was really cool.”

Sud earned a medal for her third-place finish as well as onstage recognition for finishing in the top 10 with teammates Chelikavada and Ebenezer in Creative Problem Solving.

The teams were given a scenario of boosting mental health awareness in teens, a half-hour to plan out solutions and 10 minutes to present to the judges.

Sud said she chose to specialize in Creative Problem Solving because it is applicable to a wide variety of careers.

“I know I want to go into medicine, but I’m also exploring different fields,” she said. “You can use Creative Problem Solving regardless of what you do. The conference was a really cool experience. I have never seen anything like it. There was a lot of networking, so we had a lot of opportunities to see different colleges and career options within the medical field.”


Cassie Sun, Marquette
A Rockwood student smiles at a convention center at the HOSA International Leadership ConferencePin trading was an impactful part of the students’ conference experience. Each state chapter has its own specialized HOSA pin, and each participant strived to fill their lanyards with as many different pins as they could as a way to interact with students from other places.

Hirte especially liked the one she collected from Idaho, sporting a potato with a white coat and stethoscope. Sud still keeps in touch with her trade partners from Alaska, New Jersey and Utah.

The most coveted pins, by far, were the ones from South Korea. While Sun wasn’t able to procure one, she is proud of her bright, colorful one from California.

“People were paying cash for the ones from South Korea,” Sun said, with a laugh. “It got really competitive toward the end.”

Sun earned second place for a poster presenting research she conducted on self-control in adolescents. She undertook the project as part of Dr. Cathy Farrar’s Authentic Science Research course at Marquette because she wanted to better understand how neuroscience contributed to the actions of her contemporaries.

This project has also opened up further research opportunities for her with the Behavioral Economics lab at Washington University during this school year. Sun hopes to study journalism and neuroscience in college.

“What I really liked about journalism and the research process is having to dissect a large idea and break it down into components so that more people can understand,” Sun said. “That’s the same for research when you’re tackling such a big scientific topic and then applying it to individual lives and how we help people in general.”