Each year, schools around Virginia are encouraged to nominate a sophomore for the annual Hugh O’Brian Youth (or HOBY) State Leadership Seminar, held on college campuses across the country. This year’s nominee from WCA is sophomore Kaitlyn Sullivan.
HOBY was founded by Hugh O’Brian in 1958 as a nonprofit organization whose mission would be to inspire a global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.
At HOBY, high school sophomores build their leadership potential through an inspiring three- or four-day Leadership Seminar based on three leadership perspectives: Personal, Group, and Societal. As many as 300 “ambassadors” from high schools across the state gather at their local HOBY State Leadership Seminar. Virginia’s seminar this year will span May 31st through June 2nd at James Madison University. Attendees get the opportunity to interact with local community leaders—from CEOs to business owners to doctors to media experts—through panels, presentations, and group discussions about real-world issues, participate in hands-on activities to explore and exercise leadership on personal and group levels, and form diverse relationships with adult professionals, college-age mentors, and high school students from across the state with diverse leadership styles and backgrounds. In addition, students attending the seminar conduct a community service project to put leadership-for-service skills into action. After each seminar, HOBY alumni are challenged to complete 100 hours of community service within the next year as a way to put their passion and newly built leadership skills into action.
Upper School Principal Beth Fletcher and College and Career Counselor Addison Snyder explained why Kaitlyn was selected for the honor of attending HOBY this year, “HOBY is a conference where the best and brightest sophomores from across the state come together to learn about and collaborate on community service and leadership. When you get a group of kids like that together they challenge each other and grow each other. Kaitlyn is absolutely one of those kids. She is exceptionally well-rounded, community service oriented and high achieving. She will be among her peers a HOBY! More than that, Kaitlyn will also be representing WCA. With her polite and respectful demeanor, we could not think of a better representative of our school.”
Kaitlyn is excited to attend HOBY. “I’m very honored to be WCA’s representative at HOBY’s Leadership seminar, and very excited to learn new leadership qualities and how to put those qualities into practice in my community, my school, my swim team and other areas. I’m also excited to meet new students like me from all over Virginia!”
The hopes for Kaitlyn from school leadership are to prepare her for upcoming chances to lead. “As Kaitlyn moves into her junior year, more opportunities will open for her when it comes to leadership,” explained Snyder, “At the conference, they spend a lot of time discussing various leadership styles and how they play out in organizations. Our hope is that Kaitlyn will begin to identify and establish her own style of effective leadership that she can put into practice next school year. Perhaps that will be as part of SCA, at the pool or simply as a role model among her friends.”
Last year’s participant, junior Nandi Davis, shared her experiences with the school after HOBY last Spring. Davis said one of the most eye-opening parts of the weekend was hearing everyone’s unique perspective on what leadership is. As the only WCA student in attendance, Nandi was forced outside her comfort zone socially and intellectually and that challenged her to consider her own beliefs about leadership. Nandi shared that she also enjoyed learning about the various community service organizations students could serve with, both as part of HOBY and outside of the program.
Sullivan has a substantial schedule, at both WCA and outside the school. She is a state championship level swimmer who practices and works out fifteen and a half hours a week and competes for both WCA and local club 757swim, plays violin with WCA Strings, is an SCA Class rep, and is about to be inducted into the National Honor Society. She maintains over a 4.0 average at WCA and took both AP US History and AP Literature this year as a sophomore. She is hoping to swim in college, and is preliminarily looking at such colleges as Cornell University, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech.