Shorecrest students are always striving to “Be More,” and some alumni have done just that by making strong connections outside of Shorecrest. These connections have improved their leadership, service, and innovation skills. Since 1988, Shorecrest has sent 2-4 rising juniors to a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY
). At the seminar, students meet with other rising juniors from across Florida to discover their inner leader for themselves, others, and the outside community. These discoveries are accompanied by thought-provoking discussions, support from staff and other ambassadors, and life-changing speakers from across the country. The HOBY organization has affected the lives of many Shorecrest alumni and students including myself (Lily Schneider ‘19
), Skyler Ellenberg ‘14
, Ben Pearson ‘17
, and Dominic Hoefer ‘19
Skyler Ellenberg ‘14 attended HOBY in 2012 when Dean of Students, Kathryn Sessions, sent her and another rising junior to represent Shorecrest. Skyler says she remembers “idolizing the Junior Staff, feeling determined to apply and contribute to the HOBY experience long-term.” And she has now contributed further than she ever imagined. Skyler has been with HOBY for 7 years now, serving 3 years as a Junior Facilitator, 3 years as a Program Assistant, and 1 year as both a Facilitator and Director of Special Services. Additionally, Skyler has attended the HOBY Training Institute and HOBY Kansas Seminar to better understand how to enhance the program and bring new innovation to her home site, Mid-Florida HOBY. Skyler plans to continue more years with HOBY because of what the program did for her: “HOBY made me more self-aware, have an understanding of others’ perspectives, and confident in who I am and want to be. I volunteer to provide these same opportunities for growth to our ambassadors, to empower other volunteers, and to help strengthen the impact of HOBY on the national level.”
HOBY focuses first on personal leadership, then group leadership, and finally, societal leadership. These three steps help build a framework for the ambassadors to find who they are, their goals, and how they will achieve them. The seminar is topped off with community service projects for the ambassadors to practice the skills they’ve uncovered and become aware of all the much bigger things they’re capable of.
Mid-Florida HOBY truly acts as a second home for these alumni. Benjamin Pearson ‘17 attended HOBY in 2015. Ben explains HOBY as "a uniquely powerful program that has a visible impact on its participants in only a few days.” He emphasizes the point that being able to see the transition of the ambassadors and appreciating their growth is what keeps many of us coming back every year to volunteer. “HOBY facilitates an environment for people, both on staff and participating, to be the best version of themselves.”
Following in Pearson’s footsteps as Student Council President, I wanted nothing more than to attend HOBY. When I finally had my opportunity in the summer of 2017, I realized how life-changing the program is. I can say with complete confidence that HOBY changed my life. I discovered who I was by first identifying my values, which in turn helped me serve my community with a sense of genuine and passionate leadership. I wish everyone could go through HOBY at least once in their lifetime. It’s so important for young leaders to recognize their worth and strength they can have in their communities. I continue to volunteer on staff each year because I want to inspire young leaders just as my facilitators did for me that summer.
Accompanying me in 2017 was Dominic Hoefer ‘19, who not only attended the Mid-Florida seminar but also went on to participate in the World Leadership Congress in 2018. Through his experiences with HOBY, he has been "inspired to lead with passion and energy, to be kind and supportive to all, and to change the world.” Hoefer notes that it can be hard to believe that a 3-day seminar can have such a lasting impact on an individual, but it’s true at HOBY. He continues to stay connected with HOBY because like the other HOBY alumni, watching the transformation of the ambassadors throughout the weekend is truly incredible and rewarding.
The HOBY/Shorecrest journey continues as more upcoming juniors attend the conference and decide to come back and volunteer each year. HOBY has a tremendous communication network which allows HOBY staff and alumni to connect and make change in numerous communities worldwide. Each alumnus who has attended the conference highly suggests attending and getting involved with HOBY. This organization has inspired Shorecrest students to have a voice in becoming effective leaders for themselves, each other, and their communities.