Today is our last day. Today we will walk into competition for the last time, with our student badges proudly around our necks and smiles on our faces. Today we watch our robot run its last match, we will sit through our last award ceremony. Today we thank our family, teammates, and coaches for their love and support. Today we graduate from the FIRST program.
Remember that we are not defined by our final moments, but by our journey. From the day you stepped into the shop, confused, disoriented, and probably scared, to the first competition you attended, surprised, excited, and probably still scared. Every robot is the culmination of various ideas, mistakes, and successes. Every award is the culmination of countless hours towards helping others, days practicing your presentations, and lots of judge talking. This may be the end, but it's a celebration of that journey which culminates in the robots, the awards, the friendships, and the effect FIRST had on you. For many of us, FIRST became a standard part of our lives. FIRST is our passion, our happy place, and our get-away from the stress of social lives (or lack thereof) and school.
FIRST is more than robots. You’ve seen it everywhere. Close your eyes and think about what this means to you. Is it that moment you realized you wanted to become an engineer? Is it when you think you’ve met your twin at a robotics event? Is it when you look up at your mentor and can aspire to be just like them? Think about what FIRST has been to you, besides a chance to show off a pile of aluminum or check a box on a college application.
This will not end. As students you have the privilege of building a robot, the privilege of sharing that experience with other people, and once that time is up, you have the privilege of helping inspire others to fall into the same passion you did. It’s more than robots, and you should make it this way for the rest of your lifetime.
FIRST has helped make you who you are today, and we, your peers in this journey, are here to remind you that it can and should remain a part of you. FIRST is founded on the system of volunteering. Whether it be educating others as a mentor, running events, or just screaming your head off and waving flags around. Think about how many volunteers or mentors you know that were once students like you? Successful in their industry, and still with a heart beating for FIRST. There is a whole new level of pride which you can experience when someone you inspired, not just you personally, succeeds in FIRST. We encourage you to stick around, and let FIRST be a part of your life. Today you will hear a million times that it’s not over, that there’s many years of volunteering and mentoring to come. And while we know this is true, we know that this part of our lives truly is over.
Today is our first day. Today we will walk into competition for the first time, with our mentor or volunteer badges proudly around our necks and smiles on our faces. Today we watch our students’ robot run their first match, we will sit through our students’ first award ceremony, and smirk with pride. Today we turn the page to a new chapter of our FIRST career, this means ending the last, but it means the start of something that will continue to be a greater part of your life. The moral of course being; this end could be a new beginning. Cry now, but look forward to how you can make FIRST a part of you forever. Stand by us, as a community of those who aspire to be the future of STEM, and a group of students who love FIRST robotics. A page must always turn for the future to come. Dean has told us time and time again that we are the future. “10 or 15 or 20 years from today, some kid in those stands will have cured alzheimer's or AIDS or cancer, or built an engine that doesn't pollute.” Look at yourself, you are the future. We are the future.
This blog was written by two seniors, Rachel Hunter and Kaitlyn Waldman.
Rachel joined FIRST when she was 9 years old, and has done FLL, FTC, and FRC. She is a proud alumnus of FTC Team 5972, The Patronum Bots, and currently a student on FRC Team 3132, The Thunder Down Under. In 2014, her FTC team founded FIRST Ladies and she continues to run this community today. In the fall, she will be studying mechanical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She would like to thank her family, friends, and teams for their love and support and everyone who has supported and contributed to the success of FIRST Ladies.
Kaitlyn has been in FIRST for 4 years, and is the captain of FRC Team 980, The ThunderBots. In the fall, she will be studying aeronautical/astronautical engineering at Purdue University. She will be involved in the Purdue FIRST Program, mentoring an FRC team there. She thanks her mentors and friends for offering her support through the FIRST program and cannot wait to hopefully make the same impact on her future students.
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