Three Sampson County teens recently attended the North Carolina East Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership seminar.
Alex Purcell, a Clinton High student and son of Mac and Dale Purcell of Clinton; Brittany Cottle, a Midway High student and daughter of Terri and Cindy Cottle; and Cheyenne McNeill, a CHS student and daughter of Rattle and Regina McNeill, joined 150 other young leaders representing over 130 high schools from eastern and central North Carolina in mid-June at N.C. State University for the seminar.
HOBY leadership seminars bring together a select group of high school sophomores from public and private high schools to interact with groups of distinguished leaders in business, government, education, media and community service occupations to discuss present and future issues. The goal is to provide young leaders a stimulating forum for learning about critical issues while broadening their understanding of their leadership potential and quest for self-development. HOBY leaders are also challenged to return to their communities to perform at least 100 hours of community service with 12 months following the seminar.
For the three Sampson students, the leadership seminar brought them new insight and inspiration.
“HOBY taught me that everything I do determines the type of leader I will be,” said McNeill. “I now feel better prepared to go out and take on leadership roles because of the skills that I acquired at HOBY. I am so excited about putting these new skills to action and using them in different aspects of my life.”
Purcell said he brought home many life lessons from the seminar. “Through HOBY, I learned that leadership plays a major role in success in life. Stepping up to the plate when others don’t make a big difference in the outcome of the situation. HOBY was definitely an enjoyable experience and a great way to make new friends.
Cottle also saw the leadership training as productive and insightful and said she brought back a whole new perspective.
“I can’t begin to describe how awesome it was to spend one whole weekend with hundreds of other ambitious teenagers my age that share the same goal as me — to make a difference,” Cottle stressed. “One person alone can do great things, but when you put hundreds together who all want the same thing, the possibilities are endless.”
The HOBY experience, she said, was one that will forever leave an impact on her live. “I developed friendships that will remain with me throughout my life. I’m so fortunate to have been a part of something so outstanding,” Cottle attested.
For 25 years, HOBY NC East has been sponsored and managed by the Raleigh Jaycees, an organization focused on leadership through community service. The chapter provides volunteers who work throughout the year to develop the HOBY Leadership seminar. They are supported by over 60 volunteers from Jaycees chapters, local organizations, and HOBY alumni from all over the nation during the seminar weekend.
Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership was established in 1958 by the popular actor Hugh O’Brian following a visit to Africa where he was inspired by a meeting with Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
“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. “From that inspiration, and with the support of others who believe in youth and the American dream, I started HOBY to seek out, recognize and develop outstanding leadership potential among our nation’s youth.”