Paying it forward is the idea of doing something helpful or kind for someone with the hope that they will pay it forward and do something helpful or kind for someone else. We often spend time here in CD talking about what we are doing or what our team is doing. It has made me wonder if there are stories out there that celebrate what others have done for us and if anyone would like to share.
Several years ago, I met a woman bursting with energy, humor, and intelligence, who had an incredible perspective on what it takes to be involved on a FRC team. Her name was Wendy Austin and she was with her rookie team, FRC 1902, Exploding Bacon, competing in Houston at the Lone Star Regional. Ideas and suggestions spilled out of her like a beautiful fountain of knowledge. This from a mentor on a rookie team. I met her in the hallway while she and one of the students were working on something spirit-related, using floorspace to spread out some posters. From there we touched base with each other throughout the regional competition. She shared some ideas with our students and made a suggestion to them about the jewelry they had made. When the regional was over, she came and found me to invite me to visit the Florida Regional the next season. It had never dawned on me that I could travel as a volunteer to other competitions and participate, help, and learn from them. That was how I began to really understand the potential of being involved in the FIRST programs and sharing what I learn with others. The enthusiasm and wisdom of a rookie made an enormous impact on my life as a FIRSTer and as a person. Thank you, Wendy.
I went to a vocational high school and took drafting as my trade (graduated 1977.) I didn’t have any intention of going to college - no one in my family had ever gone to college. My drafting teacher threatened to kick my butt across the room if I didn’t go to college and become and engineer. Actually, I think maybe he used stronger language than that. He could tell that engineering was a good career for me but I didn’t have any idea. I went to college and became an engineer and my drafting teacher was right. When I discovered FIRST two seasons ago (my son joined the team), it was my chance to give back a bit. Maybe help today’s kids be a bit more informed than I was at their age.
Both great stories! (Pay it Forward is my favorite movie by far! (even though I get made fun of for it)) Here is a story of my own.
Yesterday was our teams annual spaghetti dinner at a local firehouse. For some background on the time in my life, I am currently applying to colleges. I noticed that this one guy had an RPI sweatshirt, which is my 3rd pick for a school. I figured that he was on the team at one point, considering that I had seen at least 20 other alumni of the team there that night. After the event was over, I came up to him and asked him about RPI. He gave me some great information, and he even offered to write a letter of recommendation.
Now, the only way that this can be considered Paying it Forward is if I continue the favor, which I most definitely plan on doing. I am sure this has happened before within our team and other teams, but its great to see how it can happen to anyone.
I think there are constantly opportunities for paying it forward to happen. I also think that they do happen and folks don’t often realize it or take time to acknowledge it. The more people ‘get’ the fact that if they share knowledge, information, expertise, and experiences with others - those people they take the time to share with - will pay it forward at some point, and perhaps make a point of doing so because it was done for them.
Another person who has had a tremendous impact on me is Andy Baker. He is constantly providing opportunities to share, give, advise, help, assist, teach, train, or lighten up a situation with wisdom and humor with everyone he meets and works with. He has probably provided countless opportunities for others to learn how to pay it forward from him.
There are many others who have shared their expertise and experiences with me - teaching me, mentoring me, helping me. By doing that, they help strengthen the team that I’m a part of, the area that I live in and mentor in, the competitions that I volunteer at, the initiatives that I decide to work on. And I pay it forward by sharing the knowledge and experience that I gain from them. It’s amazing, really. And why is it so important? It helps to change the culture that we live and work in.
Another person that I got to know for a little while before he passed was our lead mentor, Mr. Beck. He was so passionate about teaching kids how to do things and how to make the most of life. He is my main inspiration for joining the team because he was the overseer on our FLL team, and just the excitement that came to him. When 10-year old kids told him about what they were creating with a few boxes of Legos, his face lit up because he knew he was changing our life, and the culture of the country.
I am a part of this wonderful group of people, this great team, and these supporting peers because of him. Unfortunately, I did not realize this until he passed. I wish I could have learned as much as possible from him and gotten to know him, but what happened happened, despite how saddening it was.
Is there anything you would like me to know about RPI? Feel free to pm me!