September 2019
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

HOBY Seminar Yields Dividends for AHA Delegates, Junior Staffer

Demarest, NJ: Selected students from the Academy of the Holy Angels sharpened their leadership skills at the 2019 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar. Isabelle Egan and Colleen Young were the Academy’s delegates. AHA senior Kayla Pringle, a 2018 HOBY graduate, returned to this year’s conference as a junior staff member.

Pringle was delighted to make a second trip to Kean University. This time, she worked behind the scenes, planning, setting up, and facilitating activities. Pringle said she applied for a junior staff post because she wanted to ensure that the next group of HOBY delegates would be as inspired as she was.

“I absolutely adored the HOBY conference this year! It was an entirely different experience,” Pringle noted. “While I was at HOBY serving as a junior volunteer, I had the chance to truly help pave the path for future leaders. I never understood how much behind-the-scenes work goes into this conference until I volunteered. The main lesson I took home from this year's conference is that enabling others to be leaders is one of the best actions of a leader. I want to continue to work to help others rise to leadership positions.”

As a HOBY delegate, Pringle learned about various non-profits, including Project Linus, a group that delivers blankets to children in need. Inspired by this organization’s mission, Pringle launched Blankets for Linus at Holy Angels. Over the past year, her club has been meeting regularly to craft no-sew blankets that are donated to Project Linus.

Pringle has also attended the 2018 Yale Young Global Scholars Program, and participates in the Teen Leadership in Rockland program, which is run through Cornell University. Her many activities at Holy Angels include fencing, Animal Rights Committee, Society of Women Engineers, Black and Hispanic Cultural Society, Robotics Club, Angels Enable, Dean's Council, and Diversity Council. Pringle is a cellist for the AHA Orchestra, and sings for the Festival Choir, Music Makers, and Joining Old and Young – a group that performs concerts at residences for senior citizens. Pringle is a member of the Tri-M Honor Society for young musicians, and a peer tutor. She has received the Sister Catherine Green Kindness Award for her exemplary, inspirational attitude. She is a resident of Suffern, New York.

HOBY delegate Isabelle Egan of Oradell described the conference as meaningful and transformative.

“I learned to adopt the mindset of, ‘Why not me?’” she said.

In just a few days, this AHA junior and her peers from across New Jersey listened to talks by community leaders, and discovered how they could make a difference. HOBY participants created birthday cards for foster children, made blankets for hospitalized children, and cultivated friendships in the process.

Egan noted that there are many ways to be a leader, such as launching a non-profit, volunteering whenever and wherever possible, guiding a sports team to a championship, or “simply setting a silent example of compassion, integrity, and perseverance.” She said she plans to use her HOBY experience to make a positive difference in her community and empower others to do the same.

Egan is a highly-regarded varsity athlete and maintains an excellent grade point average. She earned First Team All-League honors and an All-County Honorable Mention for her contributions to the AHA Varsity Bowling Team. Her performance as varsity softball player earned her Second Team All-League recognition. In addition, Egan is an Angel Ambassador and a member of AHA Voice. She is active with Habitat for Humanity, Angels in Anatomy, and the Sign Language Club. She earned the Sister Catherine Green Kindness Award as a freshman.

“(HOBY) was an amazing, life changing experience,” Young concurred. “I met students from all over the state. I interacted with many people with different perspectives, cultures, and ideas. I learned the importance of community service and leadership.

She keeps in touch with the friends she made during the conference.

Young is a resident of Secaucus. She earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award for distributing clothing to people in need. She cooks meals for a local homeless shelter and volunteers for an organization that runs basketball and soccer programs for special needs children.

The HOBY concept stemmed from a 1958 meeting between actor Hugh O’Brian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer.

During their visit, Schweitzer expressed concern about world peace and his belief that education should teach young people to think for themselves. A few weeks afterward, O’Brian developed an early version of the seminar that bears his name.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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