The Edmond Sun


August 10, 2012

Edmond student attends world leadership event

EDMOND — Edmond Memorial High School sophomore Andrew Valdez recently returned from the 2012 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) World Leadership Congress (WLC).

Valdez joined more than 425 international students representing 15 different countries for the week-long seminar in Chicago, Ill., as one of two students chosen from the state.

He is the son of Bob and Geri Valdez of Edmond.

“I was nominated to represent Oklahoma at the World Leadership Congress by writing an essay through the state seminar at the University of Central Oklahoma,” Valdez said.

Founded in 1958, HOBY is the nation’s foremost nonprofit youth leadership development organization.

Now in its 44th year, the World Leadership Congress brings together students from the U.S. and abroad. WLC attendees had access to leaders from a variety of backgrounds including business, government, international affairs, science and technology, medicine, media and education. The week-long program included interactive and dynamic educational sessions, collaborative workshops, leadership exercises, community service projects and individualized training.

“I learned about leadership obviously, however, I learned about being a leader in different atmospheres and with all different types of people (from all over the world),” he said.

“Though the sole purpose was simply about becoming a leader, it was about creating yourself through service to your community. The week-long program included interactive and dynamic educational sessions, collaborative workshops, leadership exercises, community service projects and individualized training.

“I learned that leadership isn’t always about being the loudest person or even smartest person but making the right decisions at the right time for the betterment of whatever the task is at hand.

“More importantly, leadership is to empower people to strive to the best of their abilities because everyone has a gift and all it takes is a powerful leader to find it in that person.”

Valdez said his favorite speaker was Josh Levs from CNN.

“His whole speech was simply to ‘shine’ in life and not to ever give up on your dreams,” he said.

Javier LaFianza, president and CEO of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, said, “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.”

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership was established in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian following an inspirational visit to Africa with Dr. Albert Schweitzer. The goal of HOBY is to provide a catalyst to lifelong leadership development, empowering individuals to achieve their highest potential. As the ambassadors are exposed to new ideas and engage in challenging topics, HOBY hopes to illustrate how to think constructively and discuss complex issues with individuals from various backgrounds and beliefs.

HOBY’s goal is to show the ambassadors how to think rather than what to think. Since 1958 HOBY has been a part of more than 365,000 students’ lives, many of whom continue to volunteer on HOBY seminar planning committees, in their local communities and schools to keep the HOBY spirit alive.

The World Leadership Congress was July 21-28 at Loyola University Chicago’s Lakeshore Campus. To learn more about HOBY or the World Leadership Congress, go to | 341-2121, ext. 171

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