The first of many things that my team gave me is confidence. Growth through challenges is the nature of FIRST, and my team embraces that by constantly pushing its students out of their comfort zone. Granted, my comfort zone as an intimidated, mostly inaudible freshman was pretty small. I struggled with even answering questions in class because sometimes just having to speak in front of a room full of my classmates could cause my eyes to well up. It was bad.
I never thought in my life I’d consider public speaking one of my strengths, but a lot can change in four years. I’ve realized that public speaking is an opportunity, not a crutch; although my hearts still beats like mad before any presentation, I’ve learned to enjoy getting up in front of an audience. Speaking publicly is an opportunity to share your passion, and seeing it that way has changed the way I deliver my ideas. Now I jump at opportunities to speak on panels, give presentations, or represent the team in front of crowds (and sometimes rolling cameras). I’ve been interviewed by Georgia Public Broadcasting (twice), CBS Atlanta, and BusinessRadioX about FIRST and my team, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each opportunity to share my excitement with the world.
Stephanie Niu is a recently-graduated alumnus of Walton Robotics, FRC team 2974. She currently attends Stanford University as a computer science major. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.