SAN JUAN – More than 700 elementary students from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA) were inspired to pursue health science careers and learned about various important science topics during the 5th Annual Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Health Fair held on Thursday, Nov. 3 at PSJA Early College High School.

Hosted by PSJA Early College HS students in the HOSA Club and PSJA Pharmacy Technician Program, the annual event aims to provide high school students with an opportunity to practice their communication and presentation skills, as well as, inspire younger generations about health career opportunities available in the district.

"It is very important for our students interested in health-related careers to learn how to communicate with their patients," said PSJA ECHS Health Science Instructor Norma Washington. "This annual event is not only a great way for them to get that experience, but also counts and as an exam grade."

According to Washington, each year seniors in the PSJA Pharmacy Technician Program are tasked to create a teaching project where they must conduct research on health-related topics and present to their peers using visuals and kinesthetic activities. Topics at this year's HOSA Health Fair included the skeletal system, CPR, first aid, nutrition, wound care, fire safety and hygiene, to name a few.

For Samantha Gonzalez, a PSJA ECHS senior currently in the Pharmacy Technician Program, presenting to students was a learning experience.

"It was great to teach students what pharmacists do," said Gonzalez who is also pursuing an Associate Degree in Mathematics. "Our station showed students how medications are made by using Smarties and capsules."

In addition to students presenting at more than 10 interactive health science stations, which also included nursing, dental science, physical therapy and sports medicine, PSJA alumni were also invited to volunteer.

For Sarah Champion, a PSJA ECHS class of 2017 alumna, she felt honored to be invited to volunteer and share her experience in the program with seniors.

"This health fair is an amazing learning experience for students," said Champion who graduated with both an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Pharmacy Technician certification from PSJA. "Volunteering today helped me realize how much work and effort our high school teachers put into preparing students."

Champion is currently studying Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She credits her success during her first semester to the caliber of education she received while at PSJA.

"I can't thank my PSJA Family enough," said the proud PSJA alumna. "If it weren't for the foundation and preparation I received at PSJA, I would not be as ahead of the game as I am now in all my classes."

PSJA is leading the way in Early College Education with about 3,500 high school students enrolled in college courses each semester. PSJA ISD high school students can jumpstart their careers through numerous health science courses and certifications including pharmacy technician, phlebotomy, EMT, nursing and dental programs.