Striving for success

Student: A Glenelg High sophomore will hone her leadership skills at a seminar in Emmitsburg next spring.


December 01, 2004|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Most high school students don't know what they want to do with their lives.

That's not the case for Lauren McDaniel, a 14-year-old sophomore at Glenelg High School.

"I'm very interested in the medical field," said the dedicated teenager. "I'm doing independent research, a college level-type course, on the relationship between mental illness and substance abuse."

McDaniel, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, is making sure she lays a good foundation for her future by taking rigorous academic courses. She is taking her independent research class under the guidance of Dr. Anthony Swetz, acting director of addiction and trauma recovery services at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.

She is also president of the sophomore student government association; secretary of SHOP (Students Helping Other People), a public service organization at her school; and will participate in the Model United Nations program in the near future at the Johns Hopkins University. The program simulates U.N. sessions for students.

Lauren's most recent accomplishment was her selection to attend the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership program next spring at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg.

HOBY, as it is called, conducts leadership seminars for high school sophomores, encouraging them to make a positive impact in the global society.

The seminars focus on critical-thinking, leadership and goal-setting skills and the democratic process.

Students selected for the training must be nominated by a teacher and are selected based on their potential for leadership, including outstanding oral, written and critical or creative-thinking skills and community service.

"I feel this is an excellent opportunity to learn about leadership skills and identify my own strengths," Lauren said.

She described what she believes is a good leader.

"You have to have interpersonal skills and be able to work with people without being overly bossy. You have to be self-motivated, and it's important to be organized," she said.

Lauren will be one of about 200 Maryland students to attend the HOBY seminar next year. Students from a number of Howard County high schools, including Atholton, Glenelg, Hammond, Long Reach, River Hill, Mount Hebron, Reservoir and Glenelg Country, are expected to send representatives to the leadership seminar:

Lauren's mother, Valerie McDaniel, said she was "very proud" of her daughter.

"I'm not surprised. ... She loves school and takes part in a lot of activities," Valerie McDaniel said. "Without a doubt, she has been very driven. She's also good with kids her own age and adults."

Said Michael Hobson, who nominated Lauren for the HOBY leadership seminar: "She's constantly taking risks in class discussions, and she helps everyone to explore ideas. She also produces smooth and polished writing."

When she has free time, Lauren said, she enjoys hanging out with friends, playing the piano, taking dance lessons and reading.

"I love summer so much because I get to read [for pleasure]," she said.

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