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Jessica Jankowitsch
Jessica Jankowitsch Name: Jessica Jankowitsch
Date Honored: 12-15-2008
Years involved w/FIRST: 8
FIRST Team(s): Amplifier-Research/BAE Systems/Lutron Electronics, Inc/Pathology Group of Doylestown/Glen Magnetics/Harro Hoflinger/Day Tool/LRIG/Custom Finishers/Hot Chalk/Beckman Coulter &, Palisades High School (0103), Robotics Engineering Excellence/The Future is Mine/The Heinz Endowments &, McKeesport Area Technology Center (1708), FIRST / Other (0000)
Role: Team member, Team mentor, Event Judge, Regional planning committee member, Volenteer Coordinator, Senior mentor Pittsburgh.
Quote: Let your heart guide you…it whispers, so listen closely – Little Foot’s Mom: The Land Before Time
Bio: Jess Jank, as she is known to many in FIRST, is a dynamic mentor. Her reach has been felt through many different facets of the program from the different events she has been involved to the many teams she has helped throughout the years.

Jess started as a member on team 103 (Cybersonics), and attributes some of her motivation to keep going because of her involvement in helping them win the Championship Chairman's Award. Seeing the growth she had achieved within the program gave her the strong desire to make a larger impact by spreading the message of FIRST to other students.

As a college student at Carnegie Mellon University, she became involved with the Pittsburgh regional committee and has served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the last two years. Continuing with her pursuit to give back as much as possible she has recently become a Senor Mentor for the Pittsburgh area, helping to facilitate growth and development in the area.

When asked how she explains FIRST to someone who isn't involved she said “Whenever I start talking to someone new to FIRST – a potential sponsor, mentor, or student member - the definition I often supply is that it’s multifaceted robotics competition that provides unique experiences and opportunities to students in hopes of inspiring them to recognize the importance of science, technology, and other real world domains… but in reality it is much more than that. It is about meeting and collaborating with other people who share your passions, and exciting those around you to make an impact on their community and develop bright, promising futures.”

With her extensive experience we asked her to give some advice for people looking to get involved. She replied “Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions; this is a program where people who have been involved know the ins and outs and love to tell their stories. Go to as many events as possible to see how things function and meet other teams. You won’t understand all that goes on until you get to an event and witness the amazing things the students accomplish and the sheer amount of energy and enthusiasm. You will realize that this is far more then sitting down and building a robot with your team. Make sure that you learn from the people around you because they have a great wealth of knowledge and experience to share.”

One of Jess’s favorite FIRST memories during her first year as an official member and regional key volunteer. Jess explained that at the Pittsburgh Regional, she was thrown into the position of Pit Administration Supervisor despite no experience in that area. “Being in that role not only gave me fantastic volunteer experience, but provided me the advantage of a front row view into all the interactions of the teams in the pits,” she said. “Nearing the end of the qualification rounds, the team I had been working with received substantial damage to their robot, making it unlikely that they’d be selected by an alliance. However, due to their seeded position, they ended up being the team the would be selected as a back up should the need have arisen. People from so many different teams came together to help get the robot fixed, pouring their hearts into making that happen. The robot ended up not being needed, but to see just how determined they were even though it would have no bearing on them was truly stirring. It’s that sort of instance that demonstrates how truly special FIRST is.”

At the conclusion of our interview she added that “FIRST has been my life for the past 8 years. It is difficult to explain where I would be without FIRST. I have come to know so many individuals who are incredible role models and who have pushed and motivated me to achieve my greatest potential. I have had the opportunity to gain tremendous life skills that I will be able to continue to utilize to give back and make an impact on my community. And the people involved with this program have become my absolute closest of friends despite how little time we actually see each other during the year. There’s a special connection you make with those who are involved. I have grown up in FIRST and I am who I am today because of FIRST.”

Woodie Flowers proclaimed Jess “as a serious challenge to the energizer bunny” and for that energy and effort we congratulate Jess for being our next Unsung FIRST Hero!

Nominated By: Bharat Nain

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