The HOBY Leadership Legacy

CJ students Jay Bryant, Clare Geraghty and Kathryn Marshall sat down for breakfast at Panera on a Tuesday in July, brimming with inspiration and focused on making a difference. The group of upperclassmen—linked by a common thread and a common goal—scheduled the impromptu morning meeting as a brainstorming session to explore ways of applying the lessons they learned while attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminars.

HOBY is an international youth leadership development organization founded in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian.  Every summer, the organization invites select high school sophomores to represent their school as ambassadors at regional seminars where students hear from guest speakers, work together in small discussion groups, and participate in interactive leadership tasks. Throughout the four-day camp, HOBY chaperones encourage participants to build leadership skills with an emphasis on community service.

Geraghty and Marshall were selected and announced as the school’s 2011 HOBY ambassadors at the CJ Sophomore Leadership Conference in March after receiving nominations from faculty members. The annual conference, which was held in the Student Conditioning Center, featured national motivational speaker Ted Weise. Current senior Jay Bryant was the school’s lone ambassador at the 2010 HOBY Leadership Seminars.

“I did not know what I was getting into,” admitted Bryant, but said his HOBY experience helped broaden his horizons. “I was already involved with service; I was already serving on Student Council, so I continued to do those things, but I felt inspired to go over and above.”  As a senior, he plans to join FLIGHT, become one of the first Student Development Chairs, and continue to organize the school’s Relay for Life efforts.

And while Bryant, senior class president, may have been unaware of the power of the summer seminars before becoming a HOBY alumnus, it is safe to say that many fellow Eagles—including Dan Meixner, CJ president and CEO—know the feeling. Meixner, ’84, is one of many CJ graduates to have spent time between their sophomore and junior year of high school with HOBY.

“Being a HOBY ambassador in 1982 was one of my important high school experiences.  For the first time, I was exposed to a celebration of what it meant to be a leader,” Meixner said. The tradition of sending student representatives has continued at CJ for more than 30 years.

“It was the first opportunity I had to really start thinking about the unlimited opportunities available to do good,” added Meixner.

More than 9,000 high school sophomores are selected nationwide to attend HOBY seminars throughout the United States, with roughly 800 participating in one of four Ohio regional seminars. Marshall attended the 2011 West Ohio HOBY Seminar from June 9-12 at Ohio Northern University while Geraghty attended the Southwest Ohio version from June 16-19 at Miami University. Both agreed that although the experience is different for everyone, most participants leave feeling confident in their ability to lead.

“It was refreshing to be in an environment where the moderators and facilitators realized your potential to do great things,” said Geraghty, junior class president. She looks forward to taking advantage of more opportunities offered through the Office of Ministry and Service to lead retreats and summer mission trips during the upcoming school year.

Marshall described her HOBY experience as the “highlight of the summer.”

“It was really inspiring to see that no matter your age, you can be a leader and make a difference in your community,” Marshall said of the knowledge which she has already put into action. The Oakwood native and cross country team captain began immediately this summer by volunteering at the Wright Memorial Public Library and has plans to start a service project that would provide school supplies to underprivileged students in Zestafoni, Georgia.

“HOBY shows you your God-give talents and inspires you to use them,” Marshall stated. As part of their efforts to be leaders in the CJ community, the trio hopes to spearhead a school-wide service project similar to the Chaminade and Julie Service Days that were first introduced in April 2011.