Sabriyah poses with an in-progress drivetrain prototype
So, that was it. It’s 2018, and we have finished our last season as an FTC team.
That has a lot less weight as words on paper than it does in my heart.
My introduction to the FIRST program was interesting: I didn’t find out about through a local robot demonstration or even research on the Internet. My introduction to FIRST happened over the phone with Amy, who was a member of the Ponytail Posse FLL team at the time. It went a little something like this:
Sabriyah: “So are available to work on that science project today?”
Amy: “No. Actually, I’m just about to leave the house for a LEGO League meeting, where we build LEGO robots and also do a project on the side. Can you join actually? We’re looking for more members.”
Sabriyah: “Uh, ok, sure! Should I come to today’s meeting?”
Amy: “Yes, that would be great! See you soon!”
It is so strange to think that this phone call changed the course of my life for the next six years.
At this meeting, I met Mr. Lam, the tenacious mentor that I would have the pleasure of learning from and working with over the next six years. I also met Mrs. Lam, the cooking extraordinaire who would soon be infected with FIRST fever and give her every spare minute to spreading FIRST in her community. I had obviously met the other girls as well, but my mind was too occupied trying to understand what “FIRST LEGO League” is to remember quirks or details of the other girls I met that Sunday night.
I think back to this moment and realize that since then, I have gained six years of experience in FIRST, and now, I am the person that explains FIRST to the people in my community. The process of this radical transformation is something that shaped my character, habits, and interests. Sure, there is an endless list of skills that I developed through competing on FIRST programs, but the most valuable thing I learned through my experience on a FIRST team was building confidence to face challenges. As a child, I remember automatically assuming that my answer isn’t the right one. After going through many mechanical and social challenges, I learned how to think critically and make choices based on observations. Through these experiences, I built intuition, which I used in later robotics seasons. The confidence I’ve gained through participating on a FIRST team is my biggest asset as a person because I can now face any challenge and offer a solution or an idea without fear of failing or being embarrassed. Sometimes my ideas work, and sometimes they don’t, but I no longer have a doubt that makes me question my every choice.
I would like to thank my teammates, Heeral, Nancy, Rose, Charlotte, Meghan, Amelie, and Amy for making this experience like nothing else. FIRST is all about working on a team, and that would have been awful if we didn’t have our amazing team dynamic. I would also like to thank Mr. Lam, Mrs. Lam, and my dad, CoCo, for coaching and mentoring me for the last six years. When I say that Lams have dedicated their lives to FIRST, I mean it: almost every single hour of every day is booked with some robotics event, and when you need a space to meet, discuss, or just hang out, they gave us their whole house. They then realized that their house is not big enough to entertain both an FLL and FTC team, so they added a room in the basement to their house specifically for the Posse. Don’t have anything to eat? No problem! The Lams have something for you, as long as you let Mrs. Lam know in advance. FIRST doesn’t have a really big presence in our school district, so Mrs. Lam takes up the responsibility of being our “person on the inside” and directing the movement of introducing FLL Jr. into these schools. Once again: When I say that Lams have dedicated their lives to FIRST, I mean it.
I now leave you with an inside joke for each of my team members.
Charlotte: “KIDS?!” It’s a drinking game, stay hydrated!
Nancy: You basically lived on that “drug” cupboard (a cupboard filled with Nancy’s favorite candy) from 2015 to 2017.
Rose: Never let opposite bands die. This is possibly the best joke we’ve come up with. “Dirty donors,” “Calm. At the Funeral,” and “Warm work” are all classics. We must add to this list.
Heeral: Things are happening.
Amelie: Marc with a “c”. Never forget that virtuous man.
Amy: Mr. Dieter’s three-fingered wave to you that one time is such a mood honestly.
Meghan: This isn’t really an inside joke, but we both suffered through Calc 2 shenanigans. What a time.
Sabriyah has moved to the east coast to attend Cornell University. She will be studying mechanical engineering and hopes to join a variety of STEM extracurriculars, including Cornell Rocketry, in which she will help her team build a rocket as part of the NASA Student Launch competition.