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The HOBY Conference and Foothill Tech’s sophomore attendees

Amber Duhs
The Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Foundation is an organization that focuses on fostering strong leadership skills in high school students across the country. Each year, two lucky sophomores at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) who represent the key qualities of HOBY are nominated to attend a three-day conference and learn through seminars and guest speakers about how innovation and community service can connect to their leadership skills and how they can use their new knowledge in their respective communities.

Every school year a new incredibly talented group of individuals are nominated to attend the annual Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Conference, a seminar attend by sophomores in high schools across the country who are nominated by their teachers and counselors. The conference is a weekend-long seminar for which only two promising sophomores per school are selected to attend, and largely focuses on building substantial and long-lasting skills in leadership and community building. This year’s Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) nominees are Jane Kim ‘26 and Joshua Gelman ‘26; both will be attending the conference in June, 2024, at California Lutheran University (Cal Lu) and are sure to gain an invaluable experience. 

The conference was created in 1958 by Actor Hugh O’Brian, who is largely known for his films such as “Come Fly with Me” (1963) and “The Brass Legend” (1956). Not long after O’Brian quickly rose to fame in his acting career, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer challenged him to do something positive with his influence. Within two weeks the actor had drafted the plans for the HOBY Conference. With a mission to nurture and promote leadership, service and innovation, HOBY has served over 500,000 high school students, allowing them to further their education in leadership and service through community service activities. 

Jane Kim ‘26

Foothill Tech student, Kim, spends a substantial amount of time doing her various extracurricular activities both on and off of the Foothill Tech campus. As a member of the Bioscience Academy, Kim is the “Sophomore Blood Drive lead” in HOSA-Future Health Professionals and is actively involved in the associated clubs within the program. She particularly enjoys participating in these extracurriculars because, “Even if it’s not within the Blood Drive committee, [she] always [enjoys] helping others and bettering the scientific and medical community.” 

In addition, Kim is the founder of the Junior State of America (JSA) Club, which aims to “inform and equip students at Foothill Tech about current events and public policy to stop apathy and [encourage them to] engage more within their community, state and country.”

Kim is also a Foothill Intervention, Reinforcement and Enrichment (FIRE) Leader, running an individual advisory class of freshmen and gaining community service hours for this commitment. Outside of Foothill Tech’s campus, Kim is a member of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony (SBYS) where she “leads as the concertmaster.” Kim shares that, “music has always been a part of who I am,” and that she “[appreciates] how all of the different musicians in the orchestra play individual parts that culminate into one piece.” 

As for being nominated among all of the dedicated students at Foothill Tech, Kim states that she was, “surprised by the nomination, and thankful for those who had recognized [her].” The conference is a three day extravaganza featuring learning, team-building and even fun events for the students to bond with each other. Kim shared that she is “excitedly looking forward to attending the conference” and to improve upon her current leadership skills. Furthermore, she is excited to ”meet inspiring mentors and students,” and engage with “like-minded individuals from all over the region.”

The conference will provide all attendees with valuable experiences and tools to bring back with them  implement on their respective campus’. In the current leadership positions she holds, Kim hopes to “bring back new and interesting ideas to implement,” as well as, “increase community outreach,” and get more students at Foothill Tech involved in their local community. 

Joshua Gelman ‘26

Foothill Tech student, Gelman, is the Vice President of Associated Student Body (ASB) for the school year 2023-2024 and a member of the United States Naval Sea Cadets Corps (Sea Cadets). Funded by the United States Navy, Sea Cadets is a program meant to give young students a chance to learn useful skills and confidence through team-building activities, real world work opportunities and careful training. Gelman has participated in the program since he was just a 10-year-old, explaining that during this time he has been a part of “leadership academies … that have taught [him] many different skills,” which he then has applied to his role in ASB.

In terms of being one of two sophomores selected to attend the conference, Gelman explained that while he wasn’t exactly sure what the HOBY was at first, once he was nominated and learned more about it, he was excited. Particularly, Gelman hopes to, “gain leadership skills,” at the conference and overall expects it to be, “pretty fun” and hopes that he will have a good experience attending. 

At the conference, Gelman wants to work on his, “conflict resolution,” skills which can be valuable to have while being in leadership positions and can also help with managing emotions in otherwise stressful situations. Equipped with the newfound knowledge the conference will provide him, Gelman hopes to directly apply his leadership skills in the Foothill Tech campus, utilizing them as building blocks for the ASB classroom and focusing on being able to, “teach others” and share his knowledge.

The HOBY Conference will be an invaluable opportunity for growth and learning that both the current and future sophomores of Foothill Tech will be able to experience. Continuously learning new skills and strategies for being a good and well-rounded leader is a wonderful tool for any young person, and the HOBY Conference is sure to provide both Kim and Gelman with such ideas that they can bring back to the Foothill Tech campus, improving their communities and the students around them one step at a time.

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About the Contributor
Amber Duhs
Amber Duhs, Writer
Second-year writer, chai latte lover and autumn enthusiast.

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