Alexa Lemke, 2015 HOBY Arizona Alumna
After attending HOBY in 2015, Alexa was empowered to spread HOBY’s mission of leadership and service to as many people as possible. She has since used her refined leadership skills to develop and implement two HOBY Community Leadership Workshops for high school freshmen in her area, reaching over 150 youth. After attending HOBY’s Advanced Leadership Academy, Alexa also created a service project that focused on teaching elementary school students about preserving the environment. She has continued her passion for HOBY and service by volunteering at the HOBY United Kingdom Leadership Seminar and local HOBY Arizona seminars, empowering hundreds along the way.
Alexa said, “HOBY has been the light of my life since I attended my first HOBY Seminar in June 2015. A spark was ignited inside of me that I will always remember. HOBY gives you a home, and inspires you to empower yourself and others to serve and create positive change throughout your community.”
Jennifer Bullockus, 2015 HOBY California-South Alumna
Having volunteered with the Mission Viejo Activities Committee (MVAC) since age eleven, by sixteen Jennifer was ready to take on more responsibility serving her community. However, she struggled with adults thinking she wasn’t ready to take on a leadership role because of her young age. Nevertheless Jennifer persisted, and by using her HOBY experience to gain confidence and encourage others to serve alongside her, she eventually started her own Relay for Life team to support the American Cancer Society. Jennifer’s team (which included another HOBY alumnus!) earned the Most Spirited Award, was ranked 5 of 46 for highest fundraising, and landed her a spot on the RFL Event Leadership Team. Jennifer balanced this commitment while serving as president of her Girl Scout troop and a youth leader and mentor for MVAC.
Jennifer said, “HOBY helped [me] create a social network of youth volunteers like me that volunteer for the love of giving back. I don’t have to wait until I am older to make a difference. HOBY taught me the value of individuals’ abilities and the responsibility of using your own talents to give back to the community. Through being a [volunteer] for HOBY I became more confident in my skills as a leader, so I know I can take on bigger issues facing the world today.”
Paul Boyd, 2015 HOBY New Hampshire Alumnus
Volunteering alongside doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit at Catholic Medical Center, Paul quickly learned that medicine is not only a career field but a way of life. As a Critical Care Assistant, Paul has expanded his role of stocking and organizing medical supplies in the ICU to providing emotional support to patients and their loved ones during their stay at the hospital and constantly finding ways to make overburdened nurses’ lives easier. He has demonstrated HOBY’s model of personal leadership by taking initiative to support medical professionals during emergency situations, sharing advice with underclassmen outside the hospital about college, and holding open doors for everyone in between.
Paul said, “HOBY has inspired me to use my leadership to help others, not [only] in a grandiose way, but through serving others in my day-to-day life… HOBY has also helped me to think critically about my [bigoted] beliefs… I have since worked hard to change these beliefs, as having them was affecting the way I could serve others. Utilizing HOBY’s model for social change, I have challenged others to re-asses their own beliefs by inviting them to participate in new experiences.”
Cameron Gehlert, 2016 HOBY Missouri Alumnus
Thanks to Cameron’s recycling initiatives, he has helped prevent thousands of pounds of paper and cardboard from ending up in landfills by implementing a recycling program in his school and community. When Cameron noticed his school had no recycling options available, he decided to change that by purchasing paper collection bins to place around campus himself, eventually receiving attention and support from school administration. When he was gifted a vertical cardboard baler (to compact cardboard), he channeled his HOBY experience to reevaluate and expand the impact of his service. He began partnering with local businesses to help reduce their waste as well while maintaining partnerships and streamlining processes. Cameron has networked with state legislators and mentors at the Missouri Recycling Association to continue his education in recycling, and he introduced his school to an environmental club to continue recycling efforts after he graduates.
Cameron said, “HOBY opened my eyes to a clearer definition of what my volunteer service should be about: change, growth, commitment and continually re-evaluating those components. Prior to HOBY, I narrowly defined my activities and myself by community boundaries. HOBY helped me recognize my service did not have to be limited to my own backyard… The HOBY experience gave me a new mindset in looking at the world and my place in that world!"
Jackson Machesky, 2016 HOBY California-South Alumnus
When Jackson became the Student Board Representative for his school district, he was given the opportunity to organize a school district-wide philanthropy project. During his HOBY seminar, Jackson changed his perspective of leadership through service, realizing that leadership isn’t about micro-managing, but instead collaboration and inspiring others to take action. This new outlook allowed him to network during HOBY’s Mentor Mingle Lunch with a representative from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Jackson became aware of the dramatic effect a “wish” can have on a child’s life. This experience inspired him to organize a district-wide coin drive to raise money to grant wishes for children diagnosed with progressive, degenerative, or malignant medical conditions. By coordinating and overseeing this project in more than twenty schools, Jackson’s efforts helped raise over $20,000 to grant four wishes to Make-A-Wish children – the single largest donation by an underage individual since 2013.
Jackson said, “Before HOBY, I knew that I wanted to do something to benefit individuals less fortunate than myself, but I did not know where to channel my efforts. Attending the HOBY [Southern California] Leadership Seminar gave me the resources to actually put my thoughts into action… HOBY gave me the expertise and facilitated my passion to lead through service by teaching me about the importance of perspective and collaboration... it wasn’t until after HOBY that I fully realized that service isn’t about doing something the ‘right’ way - it’s about doing something to give back, and inspiring others to do the same."
Valerie Nguyen, 2016 HOBY Virginia Alumna
When her sister, Cecilia, passed away after battling childhood cancer, Valerie passionately channeled her energy into raising awareness and support for organizations that help fight this disease. What started with hat sales and holiday party fundraisers turned into the Festival to Fight Cancer – a one-day event that Valerie started from scratch, packed with races, food, carnival activities, and a showcase of local childhood cancer associations with which attendees could get involved. Valerie used an activity from HOBY about understanding different personal leadership styles to maximize the diversity and strengths of her volunteers, making her event an even greater success. She used bathroom breaks during school to make calls to sponsors, checked emails every spare moment she had, and skipped coffee trips with her friends to have meetings to coordinate the event. Along with awareness and support, Valerie’s efforts raised over $17,000 to fight childhood cancer in Cecilia’s honor.
Valerie said, “Before attending HOBY, I was confused as to what my true passion was in life… Because of [a quote a volunteer at HOBY told me], today my passion is devoted to childhood cancer awareness… HOBY played a vital role in putting together the Festival to Fight Cancer… Because I [learned my] leader[ship] style from HOBY, I was able to play my strengths of ‘people skills’ with the sponsors that I met [through the Festival to Fight Cancer] and I was able to effectively collaborate with diverse peers on [the event] club’s leadership team.”