April 28, 2022 Achiever Stories

Senior year marks milestones, personal growth for North High student

Youla Tricia Onayan NHS
North High School senior Youla moved to the United States from the Philippines just four short years ago. As she prepares for graduation, Youla is only beginning to discover a world of opportunities that awaits her, including a future career in public health.

Sioux City, Iowa – As high school winds down for seniors in the Sioux City Community School District, the world of possibilities is only beginning for one North High School student. Only four short years ago, Youla was stepping foot on US soil for the very first time.

Born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, Youla moved with her family to Sioux City to support her mom in a new career opportunity as a registered nurse at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center.

“My mom brought our entire family with her to open up better opportunities for us,” says Youla. “Sioux City was a calm place. The city, in a way, helped me take my pace and adapt comfortably to the challenges that immigrating presented.”

One of those challenges was with the English language. While Youla had learned English growing up, she had not used it as part of her daily conversation.

“I was uncomfortable speaking it for the first year. I was quiet and observant of my surroundings until I slowly gained friends that felt the same way,” recalls Youla.

In the years since, Youla has reclaimed her confidence, discovering a passion for health science through courses in the Sioux City Career Academy and involvement in HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).

“I started HOSA my sophomore year. It’s important for me because it’s the one thing I’ve done consistently throughout the years,” says Youla, who plans to pursue a degree in public health when she attends college in the fall. “Most of my friendships were built through the organization. I’ve fallen in love with the inner workings of the organization that led me into realizing my passion for education and healthcare.”

Today, in addition to serving as a HOSA officer, Youla is currently involved in the National Honor Society, bowling club, and DECA as well as a volunteer at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center.

As Youla reflects on the last four years, she is proud of how much she’s grown and achieved.

“Never have I imagined I would get here in the span of four years,” adds Youla. “Take every opportunity that you see. Do most things for the experience and not for the reward they offer. Most likely the experience will provide you with learnings and self-growth.”