As many of you know, I have been involved with the Texas North chapter of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program since I was a sophomore in high school. This week I was asked to share my story online with this year’s newest HOBY ambassadors. You can read my original post on this year’s blog, or read on below!
This year’s HOBY Texas North theme – “Riding Roughly West” – is a powerful reminder of my own HOBY journey. I moved to Texas from New England when I was in 8th grade, and man did I hate it. The people were too nice, I was too far from my friends, and I really didn’t like country music. Needless to say, the culture shock was immense. Thankfully I made friends who forced me to join clubs with them in high school, one of which was Student Council.
During my sophomore year of high school I was called to the guidance counselor’s office, out of the blue. I didn’t know what was going on – was someone in my family sick? My counselor told me I had been nominated by my Student Council advisor to attend HOBY for my outstanding leadership potential. I couldn’t believe it. Me? I was shocked that someone believed in me and honored to be the sole nominee from my school.
HOBY truly turned my life around – by giving me the courage to unlock the leadership potential I had been hiding inside for so long. To be the person I always knew I could be. The confidence I found at HOBY has propelled me forward to accomplishing goals I have always dreamed of, and then continuing to dream bigger and push harder. I have made lifelong bonds with many of the people I have met at seminar over the years. HOBY is my family – both literally and figuratively (you’ll meet my mom, brother, and sister too!). Thank you to all of my Jaguars, Blue Bandits, Noisy Neighbors, Impulsive Immortals, Dynamic Ducttapers, and all HOBY staff for the memories that will last a lifetime.
Two weeks ago I graduated from the American University in Washington, DC, with a degree in International Development specializing in sub-Saharan Africa. While in college I studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, tutored in underserved areas of the city, and worked for an organization that builds schools in Sierra Leone. Later this year I will begin my next adventure as a member of the Peace Corps. The inner strength and leadership I have learned at HOBY over the years has made each of these dreams possible.
Moving to Texas and participating in HOBY have taught me that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. To me, “Riding Roughly West” means embracing the unknown and tackling new challenges head on. So when you see me at HOBY Texas North this year – this is my 7th year!!! – you best believe I will be wearing my cowboy boots, singing country songs, and saying “y’all” with the best of these Southern natives.
What will you do today to conquer your unknown?