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HY 2022 Grads, In Their Own Words: Sophia Hashmey

HY Grad Sophia Hashmey

What did you learn from your experience on the Highlands Youth (HY) Advisory Board?
After being a part of the Highlands Youth (HY) Advisory Board for six years, the collection of new experiences I’ve gathered has been invaluable. I learned how to speak to large groups of people confidently and with purpose; I learned to work in teams and effectively delegate tasks in a timely manner; and I experimented with event ideas and problem solving. Most importantly, I learned how to be leader who balances the efforts of my group, speaks with conviction, and always looks forward to the next challenge. I am so proud to have learned how to connect with my community through this board; the skills I have developed here have changed my life.

What did you enjoy about your experience on the HY Board?
I loved every moment I talked to someone new. Issaquah Highlands has about 12,000 residents! Every time I go outside to take a walk, I see someone I’ve never met before. Being a part of the HY Board was my way to connect beyond “hellos” with passersby. There’s a certain joy that comes with sitting down to meet a talented individual and learn about their role in the community; seeing their face light up when they talk about their profession, family, past, and future made me realize the importance of connections. The people I have met are a part of the larger community, and each person reaches out to another. Listening to their stories and spreading the kindness of listening and sharing was the greatest joy I experienced with my time at the HY Board.

What about your HY experience surprised you?
When I first joined the HY Board in seventh grade, I did not know how people planned events or discussed ideas to make community projects happen. It was a pleasant surprise to know the pressures of planning these events were never handled alone. I was also surprised by the initiative taken to generate ideas. When I was younger, I assumed if I didn’t volunteer then no one else would, but that was anything but true. It was inspiring to see kids my age, younger and older, who were passionate about bringing our ideas to life. Everyone put in the effort to make the events and ideas happen and no one was forced to face the pressures alone.

Knowing what you know now, if you were just joining the HY Board, would you do anything differently?
When I joined the HY Board, I was initially hesitant to share my ideas and involve myself beyond what was required of me for some time. Becoming socially comfortable enough to participate more often and ask more questions was something I wish I had developed earlier. As a senior, I feel much more at ease participating and taking initiative, but it’s never too early to raise your hand to take the first step forward.

What is your legacy contribution to the HY Board?
My legacy contribution will definitely be the mural I painted in Blakely Hall’s art studio. It was a wonderful project I did almost completely on my own! I feel like that project used all the skills I accumulated as part of the HY: I discussed dimensions and vision with our staff mentor, went to Sherwin-Williams and bought the proper paints, and put in the hard work to paint the mural over the course of a week. I love art and design and projects like the mural reminded me I can keep in touch with my favorite hobby while connecting with people around me.

What is your message to the remaining HY Board members?
My wonderful friends, it was amazing to see all of us grow up together. We developed so many skills and bonds and I will never forget the moments we shared while hosting events that made our community smile. Each one of you is a leader; now it’s up to you to take a step to continue to make Issaquah Highlands the community you’ve always dreamed of being a part of. Take charge, move forward, and most importantly, have fun! It was a pleasure to meet every one of you. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

What are your hopes for the future of the HY Board and its impact on neighborhood peers?
I hope the HY Board finds new, creative ways to keep the ever-growing youth here connected, engaged, and happy. There are so many ideas to explore and relationships to build. I trust those members remaining on the Board will find the best way to bring those ideas on the drawing board to life. Most importantly, I hope the current members can grow closer together and become friends; the best work is done when those who work together understand each other.

How did your experience on the HY Board build your self-confidence?
Although I was already an extroverted kid, all my energy was unrestrained and unfocused. As I grew older, the HY Board taught me how to be more mature and experienced. Of course, I made mistakes, but in those moments of experimenting, I built my true social confidence. I noticed changes in my speech patterns, including when to joke and when to be serious in a professional setting. Learning those social queues was a critical part of deepening my love for interacting with others and comfort in public speaking.

Did making new friends through HY improve your high school experience?
I met a lot of new people through the HY Board who I knew I could reach out to if I ever needed help. I made friends who were older and younger than me. My older friends gave great advice to help me plan my future path; some advice even led me to make the decision to join the Running Start program. My younger friends informed me of how their experiences changed over the years; it was fun to discuss with them how things in school have changed since I was in their grades. The friends I made on the HY provided a few faces at high school I could recognize and reach out to.

What new skills did you learn?
If I listed all the skills I learned on the HY Board, this section of my interview would turn into its own article! The most useful skills I collected are event planning, professional writing, public speaking, business negotiation, responsibility, time management, and communication. I plan to take these and many more skills into my future endeavors; I know I’m all the better prepared because of them.

Do you feel you are better prepared for your next life chapter because of your HY Board experience?
I have never felt more confident to be the first person to raise my hand in college (and in life). The HY taught me I have nothing to fear when it comes to participating in new opportunities and staying involved. I now understand my strengths and weaknesses, and, thanks to the HY, I know how to use them to benefit myself and those around me. I know my enthusiasm for taking the next step forward in life is because I feel well-equipped knowing what my past experiences have taught me. Once again, I thank my mentors, my friends, and my family for pushing me to participate, lead, and smile through my years on the HY Board; I know I have become the best version of myself because of it.

Sophia Hashmey is a senior at Issaquah High School and a Park Drive resident. 

Now Accepting 2022-2023 HY Board Applications

The HY Board is now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 school year. Ideal candidates are motivated, outgoing, creative, and dedicated to making our community better. Candidates must live in Issaquah Highlands and enter seventh through 12th grade in Fall 2022. The deadline for application submissions is May 1.

Top applicants will be invited to a personal interview for final consideration. Click here for more information and application details.

Submit Your Free Graduation Announcement!

Highlands Council seeks graduation announcements for publication in the July 2022 issue of Connections. At this time, we are seeking announcements for graduates from high school, college, and technical/trade schools.

To be featured, graduation announcements must be submitted by May 31, 2022. Be sure to select “Graduation” in the announcement form to provide all the relevant information for your announcement. Click here to submit your free announcement.