Usually during summer breaks, students are enjoying their days by heading to the beach, hanging with friends, or just relaxing at home. This summer, some HBA students, however, were up by 7 A.M., getting ready for a day full of school.

These students enrolled in summer programs at colleges on Oahu and on the mainland, joining other high schoolers in courses meant to develop their leadership skills and prepare them for college.

Sophomore Jeremy Oyer attended the Ambassador Leadership program, which was held at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The goal of the program is to help students “develop leadership skills, get ready for college, and prepare for opportunities and responsibilities they will face in today’s interconnected world.” When Oyer received an invitation in the mail to attend the program, he saw it as an opportunity to see what it’s like to live on campus at Harvard and to experience a different learning environment.

Through icebreakers and group projects, Oyer got to work closely with other students attending program. “We were doing so many various activities and there were no boring parts. We even had a project we had to present on and even that wasn’t boring,” he said. Oyer said one of the most memorable activities he got to participate in was the Global Youth Panel, where he got to learn more about different cultures around the world and was able to share about what it’s like to live in Hawaii.

Over on the West Coast, multiple HBA students enrolled in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, held at UCLA’s campus. The forum provides students with opportunities to explore the medical field with courses like “Outdoor Medicine Simulation: When Care is Hours Away” and “Triage Simulation: When Disaster Strikes”. Sophomore Asja Deai signed up for the forum because she wants to work in the medical field. The forum taught her how to perform CPR, start intubations, and how to draw blood. Deai was also able to listen to surgeons and learn about their journey to becoming surgeons. “That was a big takeaway for me,” she said. “It was not only medically related but [a reminder] to keep pursuing what you enjoy within life itself.” After attending the forum, Deai said she felt more motivated to pursue a career in medicine.

Back in Hawaii, a handful of HBA students attended the Summer Engineering Academy at Honolulu Community College. The program provides students with the opportunity “to learn about the fields of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Programming, and Architecture.” Senior Jazerine Nakamura, who is interested in software engineering, said that the program taught her a wide range of things, including “time management, leadership, teamwork, participation, and artistic abilities.”

The program also allowed participants to see college engineering facilities and ongoing projects in person. Nakamura said, “The trip to the School of Architecture was probably my favorite because we got to tour the campus and see what life was like as a student majoring in that field.” The group also spent time learning about the Albizia Project from the project’s engineers, who are using the invasive Albizia tree to construct sustainable housing.

Through the academy, HBA students were able to network with students from other schools. Nakamura said, “I met new people from different schools that are now some of my favorite people to talk and hang out with, and I also became good friends with people I didn’t normally talk to from HBA.”

A common takeaway for all the students that attended summer programs had to do with the people they met. For Deai, the opportunity to network with other students proved inspirational. “The people that you meet are so genuine and I found myself bonding instantly with a lot of them. I was surrounded by so many hardworking and talented individuals that the learning environment became engaging and fun.”