Hi! I’m Kelli and I am an alumn and former mentor of FRC Team 1802, Team Stealth. For a variety of reasons I was able to join Team Stealth during my freshman year and the team’s rookie year. I was a shy girl as I was one of the youngest in my grade, making me one of the youngest students in the high school of about 400 students. Our rookie year the team had 12 students, 10 of those were male students and only 5 students were not seniors. Due to my shyness and the strong mindedness of some of the other students, I didn’t really get a chance to work on the robot or drive like I wanted to. Instead I ended up working on the business side of the team, eventually taking over as treasurer. My 4 years as a student were spent fundraising, keeping the books, creating business plans, creating scouting sheets, creating scrapbooks, etc. As a mentor I did the same, I helped students with the business aspects of the team. Had I felt inclined I was more than capable of going to the shop and assisting with the building of the robot, I just came to realize my business mindset was better utilized outside of the shop.
Despite not building the robot I wanted to go into Chemical Engineering and eventually become a Bio medical Engineer. I had already decided no matter what degree field I ended up in I wanted to continue working with FIRST as it had helped mold me during my 4 years as a student team member. During my 1st semester as a freshman, I look a tour of the chemical plant with other Chemical Engineering students. My biggest take away from that tour was Chemical Engineering was not for me. I went back to campus and changed majors. After a few other changes to my major I finally decided I wanted to get a business degree and eventually work for FIRST or another STEM-focused youth serving non-profit. May of 2013, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Kansas. Fall of 2013, I began classes to pursue a Master’s in Youth Development from Kansas State University. (For those of you who understand the rivalry, I bleed purple and always will. I started my Bachelor’s at KSU and then transferred to a non-traditional program at KU that better fit my schedule both for work and FIRST.)
FIRST focuses on STEM but it’s not all that those involved take away from the program. FIRST can teach you so many things and can shape and mold almost anyone involved, both students and mentors. FIRST helped me get over my shyness. FIRST helped me realize my passion for science. FIRST helped me realize my passion for business. FIRST helped me cultivate my presentation skills. FIRST helped me learn to be professional. FIRST taught me things can change in an instant. FIRST taught me to work under pressure. FIRST taught me that I cannot do it all. FIRST gave me experience in grant writing. FIRST gave me experience in building a revising business plans. FIRST gave me experience in talking to business professionals. FIRST helped me grow my accounting skills. I could go on and on about what FIRST has taught me and the opportunities that have arisen because of my involvement with FIRST.
I am spending this year as a FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I am not directly employed by FIRST but am loaned to FIRST for the year though AmeriCorps VISTA to assist with recruitment and support of teams, mentors and volunteers. For those of you who have not seen the video, FIRST has put together a wonderful video about what we do as VISTA’s. If you’d like to watch it this is link www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGPiS-O2l70 or you can search for it on YouTube with the phrase “Fighting poverty with robots.” Having volunteered since 2008 in positions which focused on one or more of what I’ll be doing this year the choice was easy to make whether or not to accept the position, even with it being a pay cut. I hope to use this year to become more technical with FRC and FTC to better help local teams. My overall goal in life is to help youth realize they can reach for their dreams and pursue their passions this year is just a stepping stone to making my goal a reality.
This blog post was written by Keli, an alumn from FRC Team 1802 Team Stealth. If you want to write a blog post for FIRST Ladies, get your spot on the schedule now! Click here to pick a date.
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