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Aaron's Story

posted Nov 26, 2013, 11:40 AM by Michael Craddock

My name is Aaron Wayne McKinney II. I became president of HOSA for the state of Virginia this year. I am the oldest of 5 boys, two of which currently live with my mother and I. Looking back and picturing the series of events that landed me in my current position, I think of Asa, my second youngest brother. He's only four years old, but his existence has probably been the most influential in my character and development as a person.

I remember being in the 7th grade when I learned that mom was pregnant. I didn't understand much about it back then, but I recall everyone being happy for a while. It wasn't until my mom began going to a hospital that was much further away from home (Duke University Medical Center) that I began noticing the mood shift. My parents argued a lot and mom visited the hospital for longer periods of time. Then one day, my dad informed my brother and me about the difficulty my mother was facing in her pregnancy. He said he didn't know whether or not the baby would survive; that the child would have to go through many surgeries immediately after birth that may or may not be successful. I was disheartened, but still hopeful. Back then I couldn't tell you much about a congenital heart disease or begin to describe what hypo plastic left heart syndrome was. I was told that things like what my family has experienced are unfortunate, but couldn't be helped. I was told that there was nothing I could do about the situation. The answer I was given to deal with the dilemma at hand was to simply pray and hope for the best. That answer wasn't good enough. I began to research the causes of birth defects to learn what I could about what was going on. Asa was born and Dr. Jaggers was successful with his first surgery. There was still a lot I didn't understand about my brother's condition. I deeply desired to know more in hope that I'd grow to understand and potentially be of assistance in the future.

Before starting high school, I learned of a magnet school outside of my district that also had a medical academy. It seemed like my best chance and first step toward being able to help, so I applied to attend for my freshman year. The acceptance letter came in with an unfortunate precondition. The school was so far from where I lived that I ended up getting up each morning at 6 am to ride two buses and eventually arrive at school by 8:40. The journey each day was long, but worth it. At the Southern Guilford Medical Academy, I took my first health and medical science class. The world of medical terminology became a second language for me. Asa's doctors and nurses' dialogue didn't seem so foreign anymore and I could ask questions that helped me better understand.

Health Occupations Students of America gave me an even broader perspective than I had imagined. I didn't know much about the program at first and was skeptical about paying five dollars to join. No one gave me an in depth description, so I had to learn for myself what it was all about. Once I got involved, so much changed in my life. I learned about the plethora of areas in health and medicine that I could contribute to while being pushed by my peers to study harder and be my best. I grew from caring for the wellbeing of my younger brother alone to being conscious of anyone I encountered in need. This organization has grown to be part of who I am.

I now live by the national HOSA Creed and have been able to help or be of assistance to more people than I'd have ever imagined. Health Occupations Students of America has taught me to be a speaker, it has trained me in first aid, it has pushed me to become a CNA, it has made me a Ben Carson scholar, it has transformed me into a guide for other future healthcare professionals, and it continues to drive me further ahead every day.