I was first introduced to robotics through a youth robotics program hosted by my future FRC team, 1678. As I learned how to design, build, and program robots, my curiosity and interest for STEM slowly grew. But it was not until my youth robotics mentor, a high school student on Citrus Circuits, encouraged me to attend a Women in STEM Empowerment (WISE) event (previously Girl Powered event) that I ever felt truly inspired and empowered to pursue my passions.
The first thing I noticed at the WISE event was the FRC robot in the middle of the room. I was fascinated by it, pondering how it was even possible to construct something so incredible. As I bounced back and forth between the different STEM activities, talking to all the different female volunteers, I realized that it was the first time I ever saw that many girls in one room participating in STEM activities—I was surrounded mostly by my male peers up until that point. All the female volunteers spoke so highly about their experiences on the team and encouraged me to further my STEM passion and join the team.
Fast forward to the present, where I have come full circle. As the current lead of our Diversity in STEM program, I organize monthly WISE events and other outreach activities with the goal of inclusion and equity for all in STEM. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to see this the program grow at such a fast rate, as our monthly turnout is double what it was a year ago. The initiative has been able to grow and expand into neighboring communities to reach more students than ever before. For the past two years I have also had the opportunity to mentor three different youth robotics teams. It has allowed me to reflect on my previous challenges as a girl in STEM and how it has only encouraged me to inspire as many future leaders as possible. I realize the importance of having role models and mentors that empower and inspire you. For me, these role models were the WISE volunteers and my youth robotics mentor. They provided me with enough support to pursue my passions and grow. I now aim to impact people the way they impacted me, giving others the confidence to support their dreams.
I hope that my journey will encourage all to get involved in any outreach programs possible. Whether you are a mentor, student, or volunteer, there are so many different ways to ensure that the STEM field is as inclusive and representative of all.
This blog was submitted by Citrus Circuts, FRC team 1678. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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