Jorge Parada Cisneros and Floris Lopez Zelaya are ready to make a difference in their community and the world as the pair prepare for their junior year at Huntington High School.
The duo participated in the three day Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership training program at Adelphi University this past June. Founded by actor Hugh O’Brian in 1958, the organization seeks to prepare young people for a life of leadership, service and innovation.
“The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (known by the acronym HOBY) program is one of the best experiences that any teenager can have and I’m glad that I was chosen by my high school to participate in it,” Mr. Cisneros said. “When I arrived for the first day, I felt welcomed by the juniors and adult facilitators. They were so kind to me and everyone.”
“For more than six decades, HOBY has inspired young people to make a difference and become catalysts for positive change in their home, school, workplace and community,” states the organization’s website. “As America’s foremost youth leadership organization, HOBY has a long history of successfully motivating young people to develop into outstanding leaders.”
Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Zelaya are two of Huntington High School’s finest students. “I was pretty scared when I first arrived at the conference because I didn’t know anyone there and I got even more nervous when I got separated from Floris, who was the only person that I did know,” Mr. Cisneros said.
“Today more than 470,000 HOBY alumni are better people, making a difference in the lives of others, thanks to the vision and passion of Hugh O’Brian,” according to the organization.
Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Zelaya enjoyed a great learning experience. “I got to meet other students from different high schools throughout the state,” Mr. Cisneros said. “I’m a very social person, but when it comes to meeting people, I am terrible. After something like eight hours of being there, I felt safe and happy. My group came together like a family.”
HOBY sponsors 10,000 high school sophomores annually through its over 70 leadership programs in all 50 states and 20 countries, according to the organization.
Conference participants worked in groups on the first day. “Everyone was so kind in my group,” Mr. Cisneros said. “We did so many activities together, for example, one activity that we did was called ‘Free Market.’ We had to create a product to sell and make a commercial and sell our product to the other teams. Each team created their own product earned a profit for it. The goal was to work to together as a group and to use our leadership skills to have success. This project brought my group together as a family. We also won an award for having the highest profit in all the groups.”
Participants hit the ground running on the second day. “It was different because I knew everyone already and I wasn’t shy anymore,” Mr. Cisneros said. “We did so many activities and we learned so many songs to cheer up each other. We even created our own group cheer. On Friday and Saturday we also had so many speakers that talked about ‘self-care’ organizations and how to be a great leader in your community.”
When the third and final day of the conference rolled around on Sunday, Mr. Cisneros said he was “so sad because I was going to leave all the friends that I met.”
Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Zelaya both represented Huntington High School very well at the conference. “HOBY changed my life completely,” Mr. Cisneros said. “It taught me so many things about myself that I never knew. It taught me how to be a better leader and leader skills. All the things that I learned in this program really impacted my life in a positive way. My job as an alumni of HOBY is to give it back to my community. HOBY really motivated me to help others more. I am going to apply next year to become a junior facilitator volunteer and help fundraise for this organization that really help youth around the country and the world.”