More than 425 students from 15 countries, including Hong Kong, Ecuador and Germany, were in Chicago recently to participate in a weeklong leadership conference.
Among them was Lincoln-Way East High School junior Rachel Chudoba of Frankfort.
“I always wanted to make a difference in my community,” said Rachel, who saw the 2012 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) World Leadership Congress (WLC) as a perfect starting point.
During her week of leadership training and service learning, Rachel attended interactive and dynamic educational sessions, collaborative workshops and leadership exercises with a distinguished group of leaders with backgrounds in business, government, international affairs, science and technology, medicine, media and education.
Among the speakers was Suehalia Amn from TLC’s “All American Muslim” who talked to students about being your own individual and following the paths.
“You need to find a dream that you’re passionate about and go above and beyond to reach it,” said Rachel.
The high school junior also had an opportunity to learn about different cultures when she met students from Hong, Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Ecuador, China, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Mexico and the UK.
“It’s awesome to have friends all over the world,” said Rachel.
The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program was established in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian following an inspirational visit to Africa with Dr. Albert Schweitzer. The goal is to provide a catalyst to lifelong leadership development, empowering individuals to achieve their highest potential.
Students who attend the conference are exposed to new ideas and engage in challenging topics that encourage them to think constructively and discuss complex issues with individuals from various backgrounds and beliefs.
Rachel was given the opportunity to attend the conference July 21-28 after submitting an essay about leadership. She was first selected to attend a regional conference (HOBY Illinois-North) at Loyola University in June and then became eligible to attend the HOBY World Leadership Congress (WLC) in July.
“The students attending the WLC have demonstrated outstanding character, leadership and determination,” said Javier LaFianza, president and CEO of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. “Every single HOBY WLC volunteer can attest to this group’s ability to create a positive change in the world. There is no doubt that this week has prepared everyone for a lifetime of successful leadership, devoted to improving our communities and the world, in service to others.”
After graduating from high school, Rachel plans to attend college and become a neurologist.
“I dream of being able to make a difference in the world,” she said. “Starting small in my community, I hope to keep building until one day I travel the world to impact as many lives as possible.”