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Kathie Kentfield
Kathie Kentfield Name: Kathie Kentfield
Date Honored: 02-15-2006
Years involved w/FIRST: 5
FIRST Team(s): CNC Software/JP Fabrications/Nerac, Inc./United Technologies Research Center &, East Hartford High School &, Rockville High School &, Tolland High School (0173), FIRST / Other (0000)
Role: Non-Engineering Mentor
Quote: You can't stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come to you; you have to go to them sometimes. ~Winnie the Pooh
Bio: The best way to express Kathie Kentfield's involvement and role in FIRST can be summed in one word: everything. Kathie explained her numerous roles in FIRST and NEMO for us extensively: "While I was on RAGE FRC 173 I helped with team travel, fundraising, cleaned the practice facility more often than my own house, mentored the Chairman’s Award committee, wrote newsletters, took meeting minutes, created the team mascot costume, and made 40 bagged lunches in my hotel room as well as many other things! During the spring of 2004 I began e-mailing Jenny Beatty, then a mentor on 007 in Maryland, and Cheryl Miller of Team 294 in California and together we bonded over non-engineering topics. Jenny suggested that other mentors across FIRST were probably dealing with similar issues on their teams and why don’t we form an organization to provide support for these mentors and thus, NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization) was born! I thank Jenny and Cheryl and Jess who have suffered through my endless e-mails, my family who continues to volunteer for FIRST as mentors, and the hundreds of other students and mentors I’ve met that inspire me to continue volunteering for FIRST."

Kathie's favorite memory is something all FIRST participants, mentors or students, should embrace and learn from. It truly embodies the spirit of FIRST. "My favorite memory is a poignant one – feeling very confident that “my” Chairman’s Award committee had prepared well and had put together a great presentation documenting the successes the team had accomplished and we were sure to win the coveted award… and then not hearing our team’s name called when the awards were announced. I learned a lot in those few moments when I had to turn around and swallow a large lump in my throat, blink away the tears, and then go seek out my teammates who had worked just as hard on their assignment as the Build Committee had worked on the robot. I thanked them for working so hard and doing the best we could have done. I reminded them to be proud of the work the whole team had done over the years that got us to this point. I walked over to the winning team and congratulated them for a well-deserved achievement and although I felt really disappointed, it was then that I knew what this “gracious professionalism” thing was all about."

To accompany that touching story, Kathie gave us a list of of her FIRST accomplishments. "Last year I pushed my fears aside and gave three presentations at the FIRST Robotics Conference in Atlanta (one of which included two students). It was a personal growth opportunity for all of us! After retiring from RAGE in June I helped plan the Southern New England Conference; facilitated NEMO workshops at three off-season events; organized a FIRST demo and workshop at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference; organized an exhibit booth at the National Science Teachers Association regional conference in Hartford and with the help from RAGE and United Technologies Research Center employees, hosted a “sold-out” unofficial kickoff event in Connecticut. I am currently serving on the planning committees for the UTC New England Regional FRC competition, the New England Vex Regional competition, and the FIRST Robotics Conference and working with the FIRST Senior Mentors and Regional Director to develop and support new and existing teams in CT. So now, instead of being on a team which is experiencing the FIRST “magic”, I am on the committees which are making the magic happen!"

Kathie gave us a fun description of FIRST for an outsider, too. "FIRST is about inspiring young adults to look at engineering, science, technology, and mathematics in exciting new ways, while at the same time teaching them time management, leadership, teambuilding, and people skills. As an adult mentor on a team it’s about being open to new ideas and learning from the students."

Lastly, Kathie gave us one last bit of advice. "Back in 2004 I interviewed FIRST-ers and read lots of threads on ChiefDelphi and compiled the All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in FIRST poster. I have a copy on my wall at work and look at it at least once a week to remind me of all the good advice I was given then. I continue to pass that information along because it applies not just to FIRST, but to real-life as well. *Think outside the universe*."

Congratulations to the inspirational Kathie Kentfield, our next Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: RoboMom

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