Every year we look forward to planning an entire youth conference around health-related careers. This year was no different and the planning committee worked hard to put together a great conference for 700 health pathway students across the San Bernardino and Riverside counties (representing 26 high schools!). The 4th Annual Health Professions Conference was hosted by the College of Health Sciences at Cal Baptist University in Riverside. What a reception our students received there! The CBU team were a joy to work with and rolled out the red carpet to ensure that our students had a wonderful experience on their campus.
The day commenced at the brand new CBU event center - a 5,000 seat state-of-the-art sports arena and home of the Lancers, as depicted by the bronzed 20' sculpture erected on the expansive mall outside the center. Early arrivals were ushered in by CBU student volunteers and challenged to a game of Kahoots - an online game interface of medically based trivia-type questions. We started the morning with a warm welcome from this year's master of ceremonies, Simon Thomas Moore, a student from Coachella Valley High and former HOSA President, followed by the opening keynote address by local physician, Dr. Adolfo Aguilera who serves as the associate residency program director for UCR School of Medicine. Dr. Aguilera has a special place in his heart for underserved populations, driven by his personal journey as a minority from the wrong side of the tracks. He was frank with the students about his roots, which many could relate to, and how he has already achieved so much in his medical career. As he spoke, you could have heard a pin drop in the massive auditorium. After his talk, students were chasing him down to ask more questions and taking notes on his career advice. He ended up spending the whole day with our students and staff!
The goal of the conference is always to expose students to as many health careers as we can fit into a school day - that turns about to be about 40 different seminars! Each student was able to attend three sessions which covered careers from Allied Health to Public Health and everything in between -- and there's a lot in between! One of the highlights was the Physician Assistant simulation lab at CBU - a fantastic space with individual examination "rooms" and all the accoutrements of an actual clinic. Other topics included clinical lab sciences, physical therapy, behavioral health, emergency medicine, family medicine, nursing, medical imaging, epidemiology, and the list goes on. Our workshop presenters were informative, passionate, and enthusiastic as they shared their careers to packed rooms. There were some extra treats for the students during lunch - a vendor fair! We had nearly 30 exhibitors set up in the courtyard at the Allied Health Campus to pass out free information and materials about college programs and community resources. A photo booth was generously donated by Superfly Photo so students were able to get their selfie fixes in.
Even the weather was on our side, and despite forecasts to the contrary, the gray clouds managed to hold off until the end of the day, only briefly drizzling on the students as they made their way back to the events center for the closing keynote, Mr. Barry Knight. Mr. Knight is CEO and founder of BEK Impact Company, a leadership, coaching and speaking firm that inspires leadership. If the students were feeling a bit drowsy from lunch, that quickly changed as Mr. Knight strode to the podium and delivered a thunderous motivational address about making the right choices in life. He had the students laughing, applauding, and sending up verbal high fives as he challenged them to not only make the right choice once, but to keep on making them over and over again, and never losing sight of their goals, no matter where they come from or where they want to go.
It was great way to send the students back to their respective school campuses, inspired and armed with new knowledge, until next year.
Our thanks go out to the many, many health professionals who volunteered their time to conduct our interactive workshops; the high school teachers, who jumped through registration and bussing hoops to make sure their class could be there; and our community leaders who helped make HPC2018 possible through sponsorships. We also wish to recognize our generous hosts at California Baptist University: David Pearson, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Allison Russell, the college's Administrative Assistant Extraordinaire, and Corey Polk, Director of Conferences and Events and his fantastic staff! You have impacted these student's lives in ways that we may never know. Thank you!
PS: The tentative date for next year's conference is March 26, 2019. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. #HPC2019.