By Guest Contributor: Natalie Gaudette
One of the things I was most excited about doing after becoming a high school counselor was bringing HOBY to my school and giving my students the opportunity to attend. When I, myself, was a high school sophomore, I attended as an ambassador and the experience is what inspired me to pursue School Counseling as a career. The yearning to make a difference in the lives of others through leadership and service was sparked at HOBY and I have seen a similar transformation in the students who have returned from the seminar to my school each year.
I have seen my students go from those who didn’t understand social issues at all to ones who start movements among their peers to combat injustice in their communities. I have seen students leave as quiet, uninvolved, intimidated students and return as confident leaders who are eager to start clubs, take on leadership roles, and use their voices to help their peers. I have had students who didn’t feel like they had a place in the world, let alone the school community, come back and understand how much potential they have to make a difference, and work hard to put that potential to work. I have had students who felt that the only way for them to stand out was to get detention, suspended, and break the rules become the ones who help their classmates navigate the school system and thrive.
You won’t believe that a three or four-day experience could make such a difference in 10th-grade students, but I’ve seen it for years as a School Counselor and over a decade as a volunteer.
There is no such thing as the “perfect” HOBY candidate. HOBY changes students, no matter who they are, what they do, or where they come from. The only thing that a HOBY ambassador needs is an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow. Do you know a student like that? Do you know a student who could use a little refinement in their current leadership skills? Do you know a student who doesn’t realize their worth or their power as an individual? Do you have someone in mind who you think could use a positive set of peers and role models in their life? Consider HOBY. I promise you won’t regret it.
School Counselor at CMIT Academy North
HOBY Florida-Mid and WLC ’08
Natalie has been a high school guidance counselor for 3 years. She is also a HOBY Connecticut and World Leadership Congress alumna from 2007. She’s volunteered for HOBY across the country in various capacities for the past 10 years.