My introduction to HOBY as a high school sophomore was slightly intimidating. As a normally quiet individual, walking into a room full of loudly cheering staff at seven in the morning made me want to get back in the car and go home. Despite the unknown environment, I stayed through the weekend and found myself leaving with a new group of friends and a new set of skills. The HOBY energy helped me break down boundaries and develop connections with the various students and staff at a faster rate than I’d ever experienced. As I continued through high school, I was able to practice using these skills through working with clubs and volunteering with my local HOBY seminar.
A few years after my initial HOBY experience, my college orientation threw me into a similar environment to that early, cheer-filled morning. Being surrounded by people from all different backgrounds and places with few friendly faces initially left me feeling stranded, but the social tool set that HOBY gave me helped me relax and meet new friends. The friendships I made through HOBY also provided me with friendly faces among the many unfamiliar ones. While the college environment provides many opportunities to exercise social skills, it also pushed me to innovate upon the other skills I developed during my time as an ambassador.
I have been able to integrate each of the HOBY leadership model’s core elements into my college lifestyle. Personal leadership manifested in self care and self discipline. Knowing about the importance of self-reflection, I make sure to regularly allot time in my schedule to sit and reflect on the craziness of academic life and find areas to improve. I also try to play to my organizational leadership style and use a planner to organize and track my time. Because of HOBY’s guidance in self-exploration, I’ve been able to develop healthy habits to stay present in the varied activities college offers.
Societal leadership knowledge has helped me be more socially conscious and engaged in my communities. On campus, I have been working to improve my social engagement by working with activism student groups and learning more about different students’ experiences and struggles. Off campus, I’ve been involved with multiple classes that focus on service work with local elementary schools and student groups that do outreach to nearby senior centers. WIthout HOBY’s push to broaden my horizons, I would not be as inspired and driven to engage with my surrounding communities.
Group leadership became incredibly important as I stepped into leadership roles in college. I have had the privilege to start a student group that teaches college students about the workings of video game development, pushing my group leadership skills in a variety of directions. By applying my understanding of the various leadership styles, I have built a planning team that supports each other and that thrives in a variety of conditions. Having experienced activities such as HOBY Skylines, an activity that forces students to be adaptable to conditions outside their control, I worked to prepare the club for a variety of scenarios yet remain open-minded for other potential points of conflict. In addition, the increased awareness regarding social impact has pushed us to expand our group’s direction to include educating younger students to give back to the surrounding community.
When I initially walked into HOBY, I didn’t expect much beyond a loud weekend that would teach me a thing or two about leadership. Looking back, the things I learned that weekend have inspired many of my choices up till this point and have evolved through my larger leadership journey. It is easy to only see the immediate opportunities to apply what ambassadors learn at HOBY, but it is also important to recognize how everyone that comes through the program continues to develop after leaving seminar. Moving forward into my second two years of University, I see no end to the growth of these skills I learned almost four years ago and I am excited to see where they end up four more years from now.
Written by Dylan Shumway