Why HOBY continues to change my life…

Above: 2016 Junior Facilitators

I just got back from my 4th Iowa HOBY Seminar 2 days ago and thought I would write this while it was all still fresh in my mind.

For those of you who don’t know what HOBY is (you’re missing out), HOBY is the Hugh O’Brian Youth leadership seminar for high school sophomores where they learn not what to think, but how to think. They also learn how to be a leader in their school, in their community, and in their own life. HOBY is an international non-profit organization that changes thousands of lives each year. HOBY changed my life when I was a sophomore and continues to change my life every day.


Here’s a list of ways HOBY changed my life:

  1. HOBY taught me how to be me.

HOBY taught me to not care about what people think of me. Most people that know me know that I love crocs… not because their cute, not because they are the comfiest shoes ever (I mean they are pretty comfy) but because I can, and I don’t care what people say about them because the best person I can be is me. If you know me, you know that my accessory of choice would be a tutu, if I could wear a tutu all day every day I totally would!!(buut they get kinda hot.. and I live in Florida.. not very practical) HOBY taught me to not care what I look like or what I wear because I should always be able to be happy to just be myself.

  1. HOBY taught me how easy it is to make change.

After my ambassador year seminar in 2014, junior year rolled around and I joined almost every club at Solon High School. I joined them all for one reason only: I wanted to create change within my school. Although things got pretty hectic that year with everything going on, I actually felt like I was making a difference in my school through so many different clubs. By my senior year, I had held leadership positions in a lot of the clubs I joined! I have also logged over 300 hours of community service over the last 3 years because of HOBY.  HOBY taught me has easy it is to change your community one thing at a time.

  1. HOBY gave me my best friends.

When I tell people that I have so many best friends from HOBY, they always ask me, “How do you become best friends with someone in 3 days?” Honestly, I couldn’t give you an answer, there is something about HOBY that creates those life-long connections that you can build off of and have for the rest of your life. HOBY is full of constant love and support from everyone you meet, everyone believes in you no matter how crazy you may be, because at HOBY we are all crazy. I’m proud to say that everyone that I have ever become friends with through HOBY has taught me soo many things and they have changed my life in so many ways! HOBY brought me amazing connections and amazing friends throughout the years. Some are posted below, but there are soooo many more!!!

 Ryleigh Lillquist- a 2015 HOBY alum who is now my rock in life and my best friend, all through HOBY

Maddie Skarda-  A  2013 HOBY alum and my JUFA during my ambassador year in 2014 who taught me so many things and changed my life so much during my first year!

Kaily Macdonald- 2017 Director of JUFA staff, Ali Watkins- Also a 2014 HOBY alum and my co-JUFA during our first JUFA seminar together (Go Unicorns!), Kristi Lange- 2017 Director of Senior Staff. All 3 made this 2017 seminar full of constant laughter and so much fun. They are the best!

As a 2014 Iowa HOBY ambassador, I have had the opportunity to log 100 hours of volunteer service a year for the past 3 years and return to HOBY as a Junior facilitator. As a Junior Facilitator (or JUFA as we call it) we get to lead our own group of sophomores, with a Senior facilitator (or SEFA, someone who is 21+), through their weekend experience and get to see them transform into amazing young leaders. I’m already so excited for my last JUFA year next year and can’t wait to see what the 2018 seminar has in store for me!

I honestly can’t thank HOBY enough for changing my life in sooo many ways and bringing so many amazing people into my life!

2017 Iowa HOBY Junior Facilitators (JUFAs)- one of the greatest group of JUFAs yet, from leading service projects, to making us all laugh constantly, to unconditional love and support from every single person in this group. They are all OUTSTANDING!



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