State Summit Follow-Up

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. Back in October 2019, we asked students to provide their own report of the September 12 Arizona State Summit. Now, those students provide a follow-up account of how they applied those lessons from the State Summit. Read the first blog from this author here.


Since attending the Arizona State Summit, I have become more confident taking on leadership roles, including taking a board position in my own NHS chapter. Prior to that experience, I would not have had the confidence to run for such a position.

As the elected treasurer for my NHS chapter, I am in charge of handling dues. Each scholastic year, members contribute $10 and we have a group discussion to decide where we would like to donate those funds. Each member contributes an idea and I compile them into a survey. This year, we voted to donate to a foundation called Project CURE. Project CURE donates medical supplies to underdeveloped regions. People can volunteer to sort, box, and transport supplies.

The State Summit helped reaffirm the NHS pillars for our chapter. NHS encourages leadership, and the requirements within reflect that. Annually, chapters must create a service project in which each member will participate. When creating ideas, it is helpful for a leader to guide the group discussion. I used to feel really nervous speaking to my classmates as a leader; I didn’t want to seem arrogant, but at the same time I didn’t want to appear feeble. The summit helped me find an equilibrium so I could be both confident and approachable. In addition, I am planning to talk about the importance of teen advocacy with a local group. Being vocal in our communities is important because it teaches us to be proactive for ourselves and others throughout our life. Of course, being a leader isn’t just talking—listening to others’ opinions and ideas is equally important.

Contributing dues and demonstrating leadership are key aspects of NHS. Leadership is one of the four pillars, another is service. Each scholastic year, members are required to participate in their community for a designated amount of time. Every year, my school hosts a Rubik’s cube competition. Students can volunteer to judge times, scramble cubes, collect and organize data, or serve as emcee. I have participated in this particular event twice; it is a truly amazing day. I have also volunteered at food banks, dog shelters, voter registration, and other organizations within my local community. Our chapter is also planning an artistic project within our school. Our school was recently built, and through the years we have been adding more artwork around the campus. My chapter leader came up with an idea to paint a mural on the bathroom wall. We have been brainstorming ideas and finding artists to paint. I am really excited to see the final result—the students participating are amazing artists and I know their work will be nothing short of fantastic. We are hoping the mural will be inspiring, utilizing quotes and words of wisdom.

The Arizona State Summit discussed leadership, collaboration, and success. We also touched on failure—creating safe space for failure, accepting it, and persevering. Failures are little successes because they are how we learn. Evaluating why something became a failure is the most important step. Then we can return to the original problem and continue making changes along the way. The airplane and lightbulb were both created through trial and error. I think that is both the beauty and definition of learning: there is always another way to improve. One of our presenters stated, “We succeed with failure.” I feel more comfortable failing, because now I can be unsuccessful and not simply move on. I can go back and try again. I hope everyone can find themselves in a safe place to learn, fail, and ultimately succeed.

The Arizona State Summit helped me grow as a student and as a person. I have a more developed understanding of leadership and I’ve found my own voice. I look forward to continuing to develop as a student and as a leader.

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

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