Hi my name is Anna and I am a 16 year old on the co-ed FRC team 4967 That ONE Team-Our Next Engineers. I am a student co-captain on my student leadership team and work mainly with our business and media team. I joined FIRST in the fall of 2018 as a freshman in high school. My first meeting was an interesting one, as my brother was the one who forced me to come since he was already on the team. I thought FIRST was just about the robot, and because I am not a very fabrication-oriented person, the team didn’t interest me at first. But then I found out about the business team and I was hooked.
As a person more interested in art than building, I would not have done well on a team just oriented towards fabrication. So when I first heard the phrase “FIRST is more than just robots”, it really resonated with me. A FIRST team, no matter what the level, teaches you so many skills about leadership, presenting in front of others, how to market your team, how to connect with and learn from your teammates, and most importantly how to have fun. FIRST has changed my life for the better: I have become more confident in myself, I have learned how to lead and how to follow, and I have learned so many skills that will be essential to my future.
Every year of my time on the team, I have participated in the Chairman’s award submission. I, along with a few other students, worked together to write the essay and executive questions, create a presentation, and present in front of a panel of judges at competitions. Many people don’t see the value of being part of the Chairman’s submission, but I strongly disagree. Each year I learn more and more about my team, about FIRST, and about what it means to be in FIRST, along with so many writing and presentation skills that I will need for my future. Instead of viewing it as just another task, I started to view it as a way to share my story with others in FIRST, to share how it has inspired me, to become who I am today.
When I first joined my team, I was unsure of the purpose of it all. From my outside perspective I only saw it as a competition between teams, maybe a way to have fun, but boy was I wrong. FIRST has completely changed the opportunities that I have for my future. Along with the skills that I have learned, it has led me to my chosen career path of graphic design. FIRST gives me the opportunity to connect with many business professionals, and FIRST team experience can open many doors to colleges and careers.
As a Junior in high school, I only have one season left after 2021 as a student, after which I will officially be a FIRST alum. It can be scary to think about the future sometimes, where to go to college, what career to go into, and many other things. I may not have all of my plans figured out, but the one thing I do know is that I plan on becoming a mentor on a FIRST team, wherever I end up. The knowledge and experiences that we have are unique to us, so there is no better person to pass this on to the next generation than us. We have been through the things that the younger students are going through, so we can be there to help them through it, inspire them to take charge, and be a leader.
As women in FIRST, we can be there to inspire the next generation of women to take the paths that we did, to improve our future, to become leaders, to prove to the world that we can do it all. I am one of three women students on my team. All three of us are in leadership positions, and all of us pursuing different aspects of the team. We can be role models for the next generation, to pursue what we are passionate about, no matter the stereotypes. So as a final message, stand up for who you are, become a leader, and inspire the next generation to do the same. The world always needs more women who are willing to stand up and show the world who we are.
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