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Nursing student wins state competition

O’Riya Gibson proudly displays the award she won at a recent competition for health-care students.

With 10 finalists in total, there was a 10% chance of winning a full-ride scholarship by being in that group. The announcer got to the ninth name, and still, they haven’t said “O’Riya Gibson.” Just one more name. Her name being called could change her future. 

When those exact two words came out of the speaker’s mouth, a surge of astonishment went through her. Gibson rushed up to the stage to claim her recognition of being one of the highest scorers. 

Gibson could barely process being top 10, so when she was revealed to be the winner, it was surreal. 

The competition Gibson placed 1st in is part of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). In her first year of competing, she was able to beat many of her peers from around the state who had been competing for years. Landing 1st place won her a full-ride scholarship to any college of her choice. 

“When I won I was just in awe… I was really stuck in the moment,” Gibson said.

When Gibson was a junior, she went to HOSA just to observe. Seeing all of the hard-working students inspired her to compete her senior year. But, this competition required much more knowledge than she learned in her classes. 

“I was like ‘Oh I’m going to fail’ I’m not going to win like I’ve never practiced this before and my teacher [Mrs. Todd] went and spent time finding videos and ordering supplies for me to practice with,” Gibson said.

Not only did Gibson get help from Mrs. Todd, but also from her biggest motivator, her mother.

“My mom helped me out, she quizzed me and my friends asked me questions and they helped me study the night before I had to go and test,” Gibson said.

As Gibson grew up she was surrounded by many family members who were medical professionals. Due to her and other family members having medical problems, she was always in the hospital. When she realized she wanted to practice medicine, her mother kept her inspired and motivated through all these years.

“Being in those health settings as a kid, my mom made sure I’d seen things for representation and as a kid I didn’t see a lot of black female doctors and I was like ‘I wanna be that one day’,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s mother continues to be her inspiration and muse.

“My biggest motivator is my mother,” Gibson said, “I do everything for her and I do everything so I don’t disappoint those who are helping me.”

With the help she received she was able to push through it to first place. But she even put in an extraordinary amount of effort on her own.

“…all the other kids got done competing and they talked about how they didn’t study for this and they didn’t know what they were doing and I was like ‘Oh yeah I bagged this’,” Gibson said, “I studied all night for this I stayed up until 2 a.m. studying.”

When it came time for her to compete, it was still a struggle. 

“I felt a little nervous but I just had to relax and I ran through it like I was doing any other RCP…”  Gibson said.  “I acted like it was my teacher there and I was doing a basic procedure and I treated it like a test”.

Throughout all the pressure Gibson was put through, she stuck it out until the end. Gibson will take this experience and use it throughout the rest of her education at Ball State University or Indiana State.

“My teachers and my parents and my friends have done a lot to help me and I don’t want to disappoint them so I keep pushing for them to prove that I am what they believe I can be,” Gibson said.


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