Pitted against teams from across New York state, four Pulaski students represented Oswego County well as they notched a fourth-place finish at a recent health care Olympiad held at SUNY Upstate.
The Pulaski team was comprised of Shelby Sheehan, Cassondra Horridge, Annamarie Forestiere and Miranda Edick, who are all enrolled in the Oswego County BOCES New Vision Allied Health program.
According to the team members, they were initially unsure what to expect of the competition since it was the first time a team from Oswego County BOCES participated.
“We had no idea what we were really getting into,” Forestiere said, noting that Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang helped guide the team. “He knew exactly what we had to do to be successful because he judged the event before.”
The team worked with Huang to conduct research of health issues affecting Oswego County residents.
After looking at data and health care behaviors, the students realized that obesity-related diabetes was a significant problem locally.
“I think the reason we chose this is because we saw how prevalent it is in the hospitals,” Horridge said. “During my New Vision rotations at the hospital, I saw three patients who were all diabetics. None of them controlled it. They had ulcers all over their legs. They were all overweight.”
By researching the issue, the team discovered that 38 percent of students in the county are classified as being overweight or obese.
“That’s the highest obese student rate in the state,” Forestiere said. “Obesity and diabetes are directly related, so it’s not just a problem affecting adults.”
Armed with statistics and under the tutelage of Huang, the group created a trifold tabletop display and a PowerPoint presentation as part of the Olympiad.
They presented their findings before a panel of judges with decades of experience in health care, and the Oswego County team cracked the Top 5.
“It was scary when they listed the people in the final four, but we were happy to get in,” Forestiere said. “Placing fourth against schools like B’ville and Binghamton, who have thousands of kids to choose from, was rewarding. A lot of the teams had more resources than we did because they were from bigger schools, so I think we did pretty well.”
With a strong showing in the health care Olympiad, the students are shifting their focus to their future.
All will pursue a college degree in the medical field. Forestiere said she would like to become a health care administrator, while Sheehan, Horridge and Edick are each planning on earning a degree in nursing.