Me. 15 years old. Small town in Ohio. SMALL town. Attending the small town's country high school. Not even the town's main school. The one next to a highway, across the road from a cow pasture. Braces. No idea how to work a hair dryer at the same time as a hair brush. School's most advanced classes are "college-prep" level. No honors. No advanced placement. So many pickup trucks.
Me. Wanting to get the eff. out.
The way that people got out of my town (or claimed they were going to, with the full support of their parents) was through sports. I was aware that this was (1) unrealistic, and (2) not gonna work for me. Even if the town suddenly became a hotbed of recruiters...I would not be their pick. Ever. I knew I needed to get into college. A good college. With mad of them scholarships.
I joined EVERY academic club the school offered, and was even a founding member of one (Spanish Club whaaaaaat). I wrote for and took part in publishing the school paper. I helped to run the school store. But there were so few options. So I went to the guidance counselor's office at least once each week to ask about new opportunities opening up.
I know what you're thinking. How did I have time for extracurricular activities with all the dates I was going on?! Well, I'm as surprised as you are, guys.
But ferrealz I was surprisingly (to myself) popular, given the above circumstances. Probably because my boobs have been impressive since I was, like, 11. And also I'm super fun geez! And also I'm not saying I was A group, but before high school I'd definitely been D or E group at best (in a class of under 20 people...peeing yourself continually will really help with that) so being B or C group was a BIG DEAL for me (hooray bladder control!!).
Anyway, so the guidance counselor knew me. And when she was asked to solicit the sophomore class for student ambassador applications to the South-Central Ohio HOBY conference, she just handed it to me. I didn't even have to compete with legit popular girls! It was immediately mine! And then when I went home and told my mom, she said SHE had been her school's HOBY ambassador in Indiana! WE WERE A F*CKING LEGACY! (Cue: pressure for my future kids...don't let me down, jerks.)
So. I went. And holy. mother. it was incredible.
I'd been raised to be compassionate and caring, of course, but it wasn't until I went to HOBY that I realized that I could creative positive change in a real way. And that I had to take responsibility for generating the changes I wanted to see. That so many issues/organizations/people needed ME and they didn't care about my credentials or age, they just wanted some damn help!
I blame HOBY for my inability to stay motivated at jobs that will earn me good money, but do no good for humanity. Thanks for severely curbing my earning potential, guys.
The conference really made me think about public education, and that's remained my primary area of interest ever since. For a while, I wanted to be a lobbyist for educational issues. Until I realized I'd need a poli sci degree, which was not happening. Also it was before I realized that I would never be able to have a job just to have a job - that I'd need to give a sh*t about the overall mission of my employer to keep showing up to work every day. Which I only realized about myself within the past few months. So. Way to go, self. In any case, after the conference I continued to feel passionately about service to my community, but never thought about getting involved with HOBY again. Although I've often credited it as being a defining moment in my life.
A blog and twitter friend (shuddup) had a HOBY profile picture, which I asked her about, and then it struck me - Hey! She's an adult and also involved with HOBY! I'M an (I guess whatever) adult and I can totally get involved with HOBY! OMG!! And now she's set me up with a DC contact! So I can get involved again!
I. Cannot. Wait. To do things with this incredible organization and post about it here.
And also SERIOUSLY futurekids. Make friends with your guidance counselor. Or I'll make you mow the lawn. Twice.
(I'm not going to go through and link every single time I mentioned HOBY, so here are the relevant links:
Look them up and get involved, and pressure your HS sophomore friends and family to look into their local conferences)