AHS Student Leader Learns Valuable Skills at HOBY Seminar

AHS Student Leader Learns Valuable Skills at HOBY Seminar
Posted on 06/10/2024

Joowon Chung is a rising student leader at Alleghany High School. She recently represented AHS as a student ambassador at a Hugh O’Brian leadership seminar in Harrisonburg. The 16-year-old has a strong interest in serving others through a career in medicine. 

AHS Student Leader Learns Valuable Skills at HOBY Seminar

LOW MOOR — Joowon Chung of Clifton Forge served as Alleghany High School’s representative at a recent Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Seminar in Harrisonburg.

Each spring, 10,000 high school sophomores from across the country join one of HOBY’s 70 state leadership seminars to hone their leadership talents and apply them to become effective, ethical leaders in their home, school, workplace and community. The HOBY mission is to inspire and prepare future young leaders for a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.

Chung, the 16-year-old daughter of a local pastor and his wife, was chosen as an alternate for the HOBY seminar, but she ended up attending after the original AHS student ambassador, Paige Harris, was unable to attend due to a family commitment. The Virginia seminar was held May 31-June 2 at James Madison University.

“It was really exciting, because I got to meet people who are like minded, and have the same passion to learn more about leadership,” Chung said of her experience at the Virginia seminar.

“It was fun to attend the seminar,” she said. “I got to meet some new friends. They were all very extroverted people, which I like, because I am extroverted. They just came up to me and said, ‘hi,’ and we are best friends now.”

HOBY was founded in 1958 by Hugh O’Brian, an actor who sought to inspire youth to make choices about their life when they were around 15 years old. He decided to seek out high school sophomores who exhibited the characteristics of student leaders and give them an experience that would inspire them to become even more outstanding. 

During the three-day seminar, HOBY student ambassadors participate in hands-on leadership activities, meet leaders in their state, explore personal leadership skills, and learn how to lead others and make a positive impact in their community. Chung welcomed the opportunity to network with students from throughout Virginia.

“It was very exciting to attend something where there was no one that I knew. But we had a lot in common and we were willing to share experiences and ideas,” said Chung, whose trip to HOBY was sponsored by the AHS School Counseling Department.

She is a member of the AHS Beta Club and Key Club International. Beta recognizes high academic achievement and leadership skills, and it encourages students to serve others. Affiliated with Kiwanis, the Key Club also encourages student leaders to serve others. Chung has applied for membership in the National Honor Society, another organization which works to recognize academic excellence and foster leadership and service. At her church, Central United Methodist, she assists with childcare during worship services.

As she prepares to enter the 11th grade in August, Chung is charting her education path while closely weighing career options in medicine. Chung is interested in a medical career because she has a strong desire to serve others.

“It may be something psychology or psychiatry-related. I would like to help people deal with mental health issues,” she said.

Chung plans to attend the Jackson River Governor’s School for Science, Mathematics and Technology at Mountain Gateway Community College. She will also take dual-enrollment courses which will allow her to graduate from high school and Mountain Gateway in the same year. 

Riley Spangler, who graduated as valedictorian from Alleghany High School this year, served as Covington High School’s HOBY ambassador in 2022. She said her experience as a HOBY ambassador helped her to develop important character and leadership skills. Local high schools have a longstanding tradition of sending student representatives to the Virginia HOBY event thanks to strong community support. AHPS Superintendent Kim Halterman represented AHS as a HOBY ambassador in 1995.

Individuals or groups that are interested in sponsoring future HOBY ambassadors can contact the AHS Counseling Department. The telephone number is (540) 863-1700.

“It is always a pleasure and honor to select a very special young person to attend the HOBY Leadership Seminar,” said AHS School Counselor Sonya Howell.

With approximately 2,700 students, AHPS was created when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center merged in July 2022. The school division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington.

AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information is also available at www.ahps.k12.va.us.

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