State Summits offer National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members hands-on experiential leadership development. They are designed to unlock the potential of participating students by providing a shared space to learn, grow, and explore ideas together. We asked students to provide their own report of the Arizona State Summit, which took place on September 12, 2019. This is the second in a series of three firsthand blog post accounts. The first account can be found here.

The Arizona State Summit began with a simple question: What drives you? Students replied: “Wanting to make an impact,” “The people around me,” and “Problems in the world”. Personally, I am always looking to better myself as a person, a leader, and a student. Drive may be the key to doing your best. Without it, you will not be able to succeed to the best of your ability. As the next generation, we are the people who have the drive to improve the world and invent more sustainable technology. NHS is helping people discover their role in the future and empowering them to pursue their passions. At the State Summit, the students were engaged in activities and discussions. No one seemed withdrawn—they were prepared for the questions and challenges they faced and excelled. The Arizona State Summit was an amazing opportunity for members of NHS to make connections and find inspiration for their service projects, leadership, and for the future.

One pillar of NHS is service. In each chapter, its members are required to complete a designated amount of volunteer time. Volunteerism encourages students to become active members of their communities, and I find it rewarding to help people. The Arizona State Summit assisted students in fleshing out some ideas for service projects. Some students find places to volunteer where they may later pursue a career. One of my classmates would like to go into the medical field and routinely volunteers for many medical-based organizations. My school offers a special opportunity for a Rubik’s Cube competition that our school hosts. Students can judge times, scramble cubes, collect and organize data, or emcee. Through service, a student can discover a new interest that they may never have thought of before. During the State Summit, facilitators allotted time for students to share their service experiences and for students to find new service opportunities. Some students volunteered at food drives, libraries, and nursing homes. Others organize events like food or clothing drives. Our school hosted a book drive for underfunded schools. Service comes in many forms, but hopefully each student finds an effective way to give back to their community.

Leadership is something that NHS hopes to instill in its members. People who are brave and ready to step up to the plate may become very successful leaders. NHS encourages people to find their voice and unlock the version of themselves. During the summit, we discussed what values are most important in a leader. We wrote our responses on colorful sticky notes and covered our tables with them. Among the responses: inspiring, open-minded, leads by example, guiding, accepting, selfless, and resilient. A good leader will inspire a person to pursue their aspirations and drive them to be a better person. We also discussed leaders who inspire us: Martin Luther King Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Abraham Lincoln, and Mahatma Gandhi. These people dared to defy the standard and change the world for the better. They fought for equality for people of color, women, and peace. They looked at where the world was heading and wanted to make change. Their legacies will last for generations to come.

Sophia Hatsell (center) at the Arizona State Summit

The future is where our aspirations live, where we will go whether ready or not. NHS emboldens its members to charge into the future in search of our place in the world. Climate change is a pressing issue and it is only worsening as time goes by. NHS students volunteer to help pick up trash, clean shorelines, and help animals harmed by human activities. They are improving the future with small actions. Scientists who are developing sustainable technology like biodegradable plastic, more efficient cars, and ways to clean pollution are also changing the future. In the summit, we thought about one problem that would have a positive effect on the future, a problem we wish we could magically change overnight. Some people replied with “climate change.” We were challenged to determine whether this was something that was impossible to occur, improbable, or inevitable. They believed it was probably inevitable to see change, but improbable to have a complete (or near complete) solution.

As a result of this State Summit, I hope to become a better leader and a better person. I believe that nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement. I am volunteering at my local library, food bank, and pet rescue. I’m sure many students were inspired by this experience.

Thank you to my NHS chapter adviser for being an amazing leader and taking the time to attend the Arizona State Summit.

Sophia Hatsell is a student at The Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy.

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