McKINNEY — A hemorrhoid surgery quite possibly changed the course of Paige Allen’s life. She wasn’t the patient – just a student observer – but the experience confirmed something important for the senior at McKinney North High School

“It didn’t freak me out as much as I thought it would,” she said. And for a student with her sights set on a career as a registered nurse, that’s vital.

Allen is making serious inroads toward her professional goal. She and two of her fellow McKinney ISD Health Science Academy students earned top awards at the HOSA – Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held in San Antonio on March 27-29. 

Allen placed third in Speaking Skills; Michelle Madera, a junior at McKinney Boyd High School, earned second place in the Home Health Aide category; and Kendra Magnuson, a senior at North, brought home first place in Personal Care. 

“It felt good,” Allen said of being called to the stage in front of more than 1,000 of her peers. “I’m not really a shy person, so going up onstage like that doesn’t really bother me. When I go up there, I’m just smiling.”

For Magnuson, receiving a first place award in front of that many people was a tremendous experience, if somewhat more nerve-rattling.

“It felt incredible!” she said. “But, you’re really nervous standing onstage waiting for them to call your name, especially when they call fifth and then fourth – and from third up, you get to go forward. So, waiting for the announcer to call the fifth and fourth person, you’re just like, ‘I am so nervous!’” 

Madera, a first time competitor at HOSA echoed her classmates’ sentiment when talking about her second place award. “It felt really good. I was really proud of myself, and my parents are proud of me.”

Allen, Madera and Magnuson had to advance through district and regional contests before facing the most talented of their Texas peers at the state conference. The trio’s success qualifies each of them to represent McKinney ISD in competition at the HOSA National Leadership Conference to be held in Orlando during the week of June 25-28. 

HOSA is a national student organization that, according to its website, seeks to “enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill and leadership development of all health science education students.”

That mission plays out in local chapters associated with programs like MISD’s Health Science Academy. The program, from its home campus at McKinney North High School, draws students from all three MISD high schools and boasts some 250 HOSA members.

The MISD health science program currently offers students the chance to earn OSHA Career Safe Certification, Red Cross CPR, Red Cross First Aid, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), IV Certification, Certified Pharmacy Technician and Certified Emergency Medical Technician credentials. Next year, Physical Therapy and Personal Training certification classes will be offered as well. 

It’s a crucial way for students to get a bearing on their career options. “The program helped me a lot because before I got into the CNA program, I didn’t know what I was doing at all,” said Allen. “And, I didn’t know what was out there. I didn’t know there were different career paths like the intensive care unit and the neonatal intensive care unit. I didn’t know about all that.”

The program’s partnerships with local hospitals give students exposure to different opportunities as they shadow doctors and nurses in just about every department and area of medicine. 

McKinney North health science teacher and registered nurse Tina Basinger said that in their wide variety of experiences, her students have scrubbed up, donned surgical gowns and peered over the shoulder of surgeons during operations. They’ve helped deliver babies and have performed CPR chest compressions in the emergency room and intensive care unit. 

That’s about as real-world as one can hope for in a program, and none of these students completes it without a firm grasp on what lies ahead. And for some, finding out what they don’t want to do is just as important as discovering their passion. 

“Can you imagine how much time and money it saves the parents for their student to realize in high school that they can’t stand the sight of blood?” said Basinger. “Or sometimes, I have students come in and say, ‘I want to be a physical therapist. This is what I want to be.’ And, then they see all of these other departments, and they’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. I didn’t know I could do that!’ And, they fall in love with another career.” 

Allen concurred. “I feel like, if I hadn’t done this program, I would have gone to college and wasted a lot of money [pursuing the wrong career].”

Basinger said that, since she started teaching in 2001, 364 of her students have been certified through the program, and they are either working in or working successfully toward medical careers.  

“I have a former student working in Allen in radiology,” she said. “I have former students in medical school and orthodontist school. And, it’s really cool when we take current students to hospitals, and I have them shadowing former students.”

Allen, Madera and Magnuson are right in line to carry on the program’s tradition of success. And when they represent MISD at the HOSA National Leadership Conference this summer, they’ll be demonstrating not only the skill, but also the heart that provides the foundation for future success. 

“I’ve always liked to help people,” said Magnuson. “And, whenever you’re feeling bad, it feels good when somebody else can make you feel better or is just there to have a kind word or there to make you a little bit more comfortable. 

“That’s why I chose nursing.”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at