In April 2013, I was selected to attend the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar. Little did I know that this leadership conference, designed for high school sophomores, would forever changed my perception of what it takes to be a strong, effective leader and what it really means to have a heart for service. At the end of the phenomenal weekend the staff challenged all of the ambassadors to complete 100 hours of community service over the course of the next year. They said it was a way to “pay it forward” and one of the main requirements that must be met to be eligible to return to HOBY as a junior counselor the following year. At the time I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to meet this challenging goal, but I knew I was most definitely ready to try!!!
I am proud to say that thanks to the inspiration and support I received from my HOBY experience I successfully completed 200 plus hours of community service over the course of the year and return to the seminar as a junior counselor last spring. Being part of 150 other HOBY ambassadors’ journey was an OUTSTANDING experience! (My fellow HOBY alumni will understand the “outstanding” reference!)
In honor of this accomplishment I recently received a letter from President Barack Obama letting me know that I was being recognized as a recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award for my commitment to service. I was shocked and honored! It isn’t every day that you check your mail and find a letter from the White House. In addition to this amazing honor I was also humbled to receive a HOBY Leadership for Service Award from Mr. Hugh O’Brien himself. I can officially say I am hooked on service and will always be a fan and supporter of this inspirational program!!!
The slogan of HOBY is “Empower. Lead. Excel.” I wear my bracelet with this motto as a daily reminder to do all I can to make a difference and have a strong impact on those around me!
Thank you to everyone involved with HOBY for changing the lives of so many students. I have applied the valuable skills I learned at the seminar to school, pageantry, developing and carryout out my platform, and almost every area of my life. It set me on lifelong quest to seek out opportunities to serve others. High School Sophomores, if you have the opportunity I highly recommend you get more information and apply to participate in your state’s seminar! It is truly one of the most amazing experiences! I look forward to many more years of volunteering and involvement with Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership!
If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!
Miss Teen International 2014