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Wayne Penn
Wayne Penn Name: Wayne Penn
Date Honored: 11-30-2006
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): Ford Motor Company/FANUC Robotics Inc./B&,K Corporation &, Utica Community Schools (0217), The McGraw-Hill Companies/Columbia University &, Morris High School Campus &, Professional Children's School &, Fieldston (0395), Mass Bay Engineering/PIAB &, Norwell High School (0348)
Role: Student/Engineer
Quote: The fundamental responsibility of a mentor or leader is to inspire others to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and become new leaders.
Bio: Wayne Penn is an outstanding volunteer with a lot of experience. Wayne has served on a number of FRC teams, and has held different roles with them: "On 395 I served as the lead student mentor from Columbia University, overseeing our FIRST mentoring efforts as well as served as strategy coach. On 348, Iím heading strategy and scouting."

We asked Wayne about his favorite memory in FIRST, and he gave us this gem: "My favorite FIRST memory was when one of my students came to talk to me post-season. He had told me that neither him nor his family expected him to graduate from high school nor was he really motivated to do so; this unfortunately is a common mentality that we see with our students in the Bronx. FIRST gave him something to look forward to everyday and served as his motivation to focus in school. He told me that he appreciated that I never game up on him and showed him that I believed in him, which helped him build a lot of confidence. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he replied go to college, study science, and mentor others like you did for me. I promise everyone coming into FIRST at least one magical moment; this was mine as a mentor."

Wayne also has quite the list of accomplishments behind him. "Victories are made everyday on and off the field. Over the past 4 years, we have been fortunate to have numerous Regional Championships, a Regional Chairmanís Award, a FLL team that has made it to the World Festival 3 times, where I was given the FLL 2002 National Invitational Adult Mentor of the Year Award (which is the coolest trophy Iíve ever received, completely made out of Legos!). Iíve also had the honor of serving as the Emcee at regionals and at the Duel on the Delaware. Iíve also served on the FIRST and FLL Planning Committees in NYC and Boston. But more importantly, I think of my FIRST accomplishments as every student who now believes in themselves a little more or a little differently, pursues higher education, and has had their life changed by FIRST. Last year I spearheaded a project that we call the Region 2 Robotics Initiative, to get more schools and students involved in FIRST and FLL. We grew our Regions FLL teams to 45, more teams than in any other borough in the New York City area. We ran bi-monthly workshops for students and teachers at the Region office with support from University mentors, engineers, and FIRST Robotic Team Members from the Region. The workshops were always fun gatherings with free exchanges of ideas. The Initiative has grown even more in its second year and will continue to be an integral part of 395 and 1230s yearly activities. Every student exposed to FRC, FVC, or FLL and who is challenged to think is a FIRST accomplishment."

Wayne also had a short but sweet blurb to tell those who are interested in FIRST: "FIRST is about telling students YES YOU CAN; we just have more fun doing it than anyone else."

Finally, Wayne had a bit of advice for his fellow FIRST participants. "It is the people in FIRST that make FIRST such a great organization. Take every opportunity that you can to meet and talk to students and mentors from your team and others alike. Everyone has a story to share or a lesson to be conveyed. Take the time also to show your appreciation for the diverse and dynamic group of people that you are privileged to call mentors, teammates, or FIRST friends. Remember, it is your actions, what you learn, and what you share with others on an everyday basis that defines you in FIRST, not what you will win or have won."

Congratulations to Wayne Penn, our next Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: Micah Siegel

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