My first experience with FIRST came in middle school. A lot of my friends were joining our new FLL team, and they seemed to be loving it. I didn’t join; as a student of English and History, robotics never crossed my mind as something I’d ever want to take part in.
I had the same thought when I first entered high school. All of the engineers and mathematicians in my class were joining, and my brother had already been a W.A.R. Lord for a year, but again I was sure it wasn’t for me. I kept to my humanities classes and moved on.
Near the end of that year, I realized I hadn’t fulfilled most of my school’s community service hour requirement. As I scrambled to find a way to fill 16 hours of volunteer week in one weekend, my brother suggested to me that I help out at the 2015 San Diego FRC Regional.
As soon as I stepped into the Staples Center, a feeling washed over me that I had never experienced before. At that moment, I realized that I had always wanted to be a part of something like FIRST, where I would have the opportunity to work with other passionate students towards a common goal.
It was too late to join that year, but as soon as sign ups started for people to join over the summer, my journey began. At first, I tried out the strategy team: I had some friends there, and I knew how Settlers of Catan worked. That’s strategy, right?
One day, I happened to drop by and listen in on a Chairman’s meeting. Coming out of that room, I knew exactly where I belonged on the team: Business and Outreach.
In the year and a half since that day, I’ve fallen in love with business and outreach. As Co-President of business and outreach, I’ve worked with my department to coordinate sponsorships, organize and write our Chairman’s award submission, and facilitate and host community outreach events. But FIRST has given me more than just the skills I’ve learned doing all of this: it has given me a family.
Now I know why they say that FIRST is more than robots. As I approach my third year in robotics, I finally know what FIRST means to me. It’s not just the skills I’ve learned. It’s not just the awards we’ve won. And it’s not just about the robots. FIRST and Team 2485 have given me so many friends and memories that are irreplaceable.
Co-President of Business and Outreach