Actor Hugh O’Brian, founder of Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership, surprised everyone at the annual Utah HOBY Seminar at Aspen Grove by arriving unannounced as the closing ceremony was wrapping up Saturday afternoon.
Although the 99 HOBY “ambassadors” (high school sophomores selected by their counselors from public and private high schools from all across Utah because of their leadership skills and potential), had been involved in intense leadership training since early morning, Thursday, May 12, they, their parents, and the 35 HOBY staff that conducted the seminar listened intently as O’Brian told the HOBY story, shared personal experiences and gave advice.
“My life would be so much different than it is now if not for HOBY, said Kylie Woolley, a HOBY alumnus from Riverton High School. "HOBY gives people self-confidence they would not otherwise have. It makes you look at everything differently.”
“Imagine what it means to me to hear you say that," O'Brian replied.
Since its founding in 1958, HOBY has been a part of the lives of more than 400,000 students. O’Brian was inspired to start HOBY after a meeting with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa.
“One of the things Schweitzer said to me was that the most important thing in education was to teach young people to think for themselves,” O’Brian said.
This Utah HOBY seminar provided ambassadors with the opportunity to interact with over 50 distinguished leaders in business, government, religion and other professions to discuss present and future issues. Similar to HOBY seminars held each spring in all 50 states and 15 countries, the goal is to provide ambassadors with stimulating forums for learning about critical national and global issues while broadening their understanding of their own leadership potential and enhancing their quest for self-development. HOBY wants ambassadors to learn how to think, not what to think.
Ambassadors were challenged at the seminar and encouraged to set personal goals. As juniors they are encouraged to report on what they do with these challenges and goals. Based on their reports, scholarships are awarded, and David Olpin, HOBY Utah corporate president said in 2010, 21 alumni received $174,000 in scholarships to Utah colleges and universities. Over $1 million in scholarships have been awarded to HOBY Utah alumni.
The phrase "Kids today..." almost always precedes an expression of displeasure with today’s youth. But, if you’re talking about the 99 select high school sophomores who spent May 12-14 at the Utah HOBY Seminar at Aspen Grove, this phrase prefaces amazement at the caliber of students that can be found in Utah’s schools today.
Reed has served on the HOBY Utah Board for four years. His two youngest children are HOBY Alumni. Additional information about HOBY can be found at www.hobyutah.org, www.hoby.org or by contacting Reed at Reed@Farnsworth.us
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