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Black Hawks use HOBY to promote leadership on campus
Two Gilbert students are motivating students toward leadership at their school.
Williams Field High School senior Alexa Lemke and junior Erin Alibrandi are transforming student leadership through clubs inspired by Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership’s effective and compassionate leadership vision.
HOBY is an international nonprofit that hosts annual leadership seminars for sophomores that school counselors select for their outstanding leadership potential.
For Lemke, the seminar was motivation for her to create Williams Field’s HOBY Leadership Club and first HOBY Community Leadership Workshop in her junior year. On Jan. 28, the club hosted the second WFHS Community Leadership Workshop, bringing panelists, service projects and group activities to 50 freshmen in the district for a daylong event.
“It introduces them to the idea of creating positive change within their community and spreading the HOBY message that people can empower others through different leadership styles,” Lemke said. “You don’t have to be involved in student council to be a leader. You can do it yourself.”
As Williams Field’s Community Leadership Workshops increase interest in HOBY, Lemke hopes to inspire students to create their own leadership opportunities by joining clubs or creating their own.
Alibrandi chose to do the latter following her seminar — and it paid off. After competing against 60 HOBY alumni and pitching her big idea to judges at HOBY International’s first Magic Makers event in Los Angeles, she won $1,000 for her club: Project HOBO.
The club — which now has a total of 300 members at Williams Field — uses a politically incorrect term as an acronym for “Helping Others Build Opportunities” to remove the stigma of homelessness. Through Project HOBO, students volunteer at and donate materials to homeless shelters. As its leader, Alibrandi uses the club to encourage aspiring leaders.
“Being a leader is taking a step back and thinking about others, putting others’ needs before yours,” Alibrandi said. “I think this is exactly what HOBO does. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what these people want. It’ll make people aware that it’s time to step down and start helping out.”
Alibrandi is currently working with Higley High School and the Tempe Union High School District to implement Project HOBO as an extracurricular activity. She will continue her involvement in HOBY.
Lemke will attend Arizona State University in the fall as a business sustainability student and Sun Devil Marching Band member, but she will continue volunteering annually at the HOBY Arizona’s leadership seminar and WFHS Community Leadership Workshop.
“HOBY allows you to challenge yourself and see different perspectives, meet new people and gain skills that you’ll use throughout your entire lifetime,” Lemke said. “HOBY is a family. HOBY is an incredible organization to call home.”