UH Hilo students earn first place at national competition

Two teams of future health care professionals studying at UH Hilo developed public service announcements on “Concussion: Prevention and Recognition.” One team took the championship, the other top honors.

Cecilia Mukai stands with five team members, all male and in blue suit and red tie, wearing kukui lei.

Two teams of future health care professionals studying at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo turned in stellar performances at a national leadership conference held last month in Anaheim, Calif. One team took the championship and the other top ten honors.

The two teams represented UH Hilo at the HOSA 38th Annual National Leadership Conference. Established in 1976 as Health Occupations Students of America, HOSA is a national student organization with the goals of promoting career opportunities in the health care industry and enhancing the delivery of quality health care.

The UH Hilo teams were tasked with developing a 30-second public service announcement on “Concussion: Prevention and Recognition,” followed by a four-minute oral presentation that provides a synopsis of the PSA, explains the creative process of the project, and how it may affect the target audience.

First place was awarded to Team B, with members Lark Jason Canico, who serves as chapter president, Shane Naeole, and Taumata Tue Vaea, serving as an alternate from UH Mānoa. Team A, with members Ridge Cabaccang, Kelly Gani, and Sheldon Cabudol, received top 10 honors.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy and still in denial that we captured gold facing such tough competition,” Canico says. “To finish first after coming in second last year makes it extra special.”

This year’s conference was the largest ever with over 8,550 members in attendance. Hawaiʻi brought a total of 223 members, ranked second in the nation for most medals won in every competitive event, and won the Most Enthusiastic state award.

“A trip to Anaheim usually includes a visit to Disneyland,” says faculty advisor Cecilia Mukai, a professor of nursing. “But I was more than happy to trade that visit for the chance to see both our teams finish in the top ten, with one capturing gold.”


HOSA-Future Health Professionals is now an international organization with the addition of Puerto Rico, Italy, Canada and Mexico, who competed at this year’s leadership conference. The organization totals more than 175,000 members and 2.4 million alumni.

HOSA was established in Hawaiʻi in 2005 and has grown to more than 1,300 members. UH Hilo’s membership is open to all majors and grade levels and Hawaiʻi Community College students.

Media release

Share this story