Amy (left) and Nancy (right) pose before a team judging session
For the past nine years robotics has shaped me into the confident, purpose-driven woman I am today. Before I joined robotics I was a little shy and I didn’t have any public speaking skills. If a teacher asked me to share my opinion in class or to read a passage I would always freeze up and my voice would quaver. But, after being on a robotics team for a few years, all of those fears vanished. My confidence in myself and my ideas boosted because I learned incredible soft skills like learning how to talk to adults and how to express my opinions to a large group. I learned how to craft a presentation and how to develop an idea and turn it into a reality. These are just a few of the skills that have been key to my development as a person.
Most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives when they are in high school, much less know what they want to do in middle school or elementary school. After my very first year of robotics in fourth grade, I knew exactly what I wanted to do the rest of my life: solve social problems and make people happy. At the time, I didn’t know there was a word for that entrepreneurial mindset, but I knew I wanted to pursue it for the rest of my life. Robotics really opened my eyes to the idea of solving problems and developing innovative solutions to benefit others. I realized that problems and challenges were fun and could be solved through creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.
Robotics showed me the importance (and the fun) of volunteering! Programs like FIRST wouldn’t exist without the amazing volunteers that value the program and see the impacts it has on students across the world. FIRST is a wonderful organization that unites people together from all backgrounds, interests and abilities. I have met amazing friends, mentors and professionals through this program. The volunteers are the backbone the programs success; volunteers, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for giving your time, attention, and heart to this program. You allow students to discover their passion because you allow FIRST to happen.
Additionally, there is a significant group of people I need to thank for all of their time and commitment to the team: The Lam’s and the Taher’s. While, yes, I have learned so many things through the robotics program, I have learned more through the coaches and mentors that guided me and supported me for many years. Mr. Lam, who we call CoLa, has been an integral part of my life. He taught me how to work with others and how to embrace different perspectives to solve problems. CoLa saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself, and he was a coach who inspired me to always be a better person and to be a better professional. He taught me about work ethic and deadlines (something I’m still working on considering I’m writing this post a day late). I am so grateful that CoLa opened up his home and taught us pretty much everything I know. I am truly blessed and forever in debt to him and his kindess.
Mr. Taher, CoCo, was our other coach and he is such a role model to me. His ability to see the good in people and his ability to problem solve under pressure amazes me. Through working with CoCo he taught me how to look at all aspects of a situation and come to an appropriate conclusion. He showed me the importance of collaboration and delegation in professional settings and how it can elicit the best, most innovative results. CoCo has such a caring heart and he reminded me that it is okay to fail, because it is an opportunity to grow and learn. He guided me towards realizing that everything doesn’t have to be perfect the first try. This life lesson applies to all aspects of my life, and I will take that pocket of advice with me everywhere I go. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me and shown me.
Finally, I need to give a huge thank you to Mrs. Lam who has acted like a mom to me. She is an incredible woman who has such a heart for FIRST. More importantly, she has a heart for people. Anyone she meets she is always willing to go the extra mile to help them, whether that be giving them a ride to a meeting or make them a meal or chatting with them about life. Or, during the stressful week leading up to competition, she will be the destressing personality who brings cookies and snacks down the the Posse room. Mrs. Lam taught me how to further believe in myself and my ideas and to never let your passion get crushed by a few minor setbacks. She has done so much for me, this team, and this program and she deserves endless recognition.
Thank you for an incredible nine years. This team has been such a blessing. I joined this program not realizing what I was getting myself into, and now I have the incredible honor of leaving this program with seven best friends and 3 coaches who I consider family. Ladies and coaches, you mean the world to me. Thank you for letting me be a part of this team. Thank you for letting me grow as a person. Thank you for shaping me into who I am today. You all are so talented, kind, and inspiring. I love you so much ♥️
Amy is living on campus at the University of St. Thomas. She is double majoring in Entrepreneurship and Marketing and she is looking forward to joining a variety of entrepreneurship clubs on campus. She is also competing in several business plan and pitch competitions this year, including the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, which a premier award program open to college students around the world.