This is a small speech that I always give to my Freshman that are entering the team. I was apart of FIRST for 7 years while I was in school (4 in high school, 3 in middle school), and I was a mentor this past season. My last two years of being on my FIRST team, I was slowly given more of a responsibility on the team as a captain. Now as a mentor, I give the relatively same speech, just with a little more experience. So, to any new students who are entering FIRST, I hope this helps.
Well first and foremost, welcome to FIRST. This program is one of a kind, it will change your life very quickly if you let it. FIRST has been the home to many people across the globe and will be a home to hopefully all of you. FIRST is what any science lover dreams of, something that breaks the stereotypical idolization of sports stars and music stars. It will, even if for just a moment, make you want to become something more then that. Someone who truly makes an impact on the world. If you don’t believe me, just look at my past. I started high school, quite honestly not caring about school. I did Lego League through middle school and just kind of went,“Meh, it was fun.” My first two years of high school were, to say the least, terrible. I went through those years without any rhyme or reason. Could care less about grades, no matter the lecture I was getting at school or at home. But there was one person and one thing that truly made a difference. The person, Scott Heister (Our faculty sponsor and now great friend), and the thing, FIRST. I had Heister all of sophomore year for Physics. I never did the homework, didn’t care about class and got a lecture from him every day. The in and out of his speeches, I was going nowhere if I didn’t change who I was.
He was right. I wasn’t stupid, I could do the work. I got a 100% and the only 100% in the class on his mid term at the end of the first semester. I knew exactly what I was doing, I just didn’t care that I knew. I barely passed the first semester, but failed second semester. I was failing another class or two and began to slip behind on my credits. My second year of robotics did change my life though. My freshman year I saw teams get announced for the Chairman’s Award and saw the praise the team got for all their hard work, and I wanted it. I didn’t want the glory, but to be recognized for actually doing something with my life. Going into my second year of robotics, near the end of the build season, along with another student began to do all the work to get the Chairman’s award. At the Wayne State District, we won the competition, the safety award and the Chairman’s. I was video taping the awards when they called us, and I was in so much shock it took my friend to call my name and tell me to come and get what I worked for. At the end of that year, I was sitting on my bed at home and wrote on a piece of paper over and over again,“I will not screw up any longer.”
My junior year, I began to take charge of things. I worked hard on everything I could. My grades began to improve and so did my self esteem. Going into my Senior year, I began to try to teach what I had known about the team to all the younger kids on the team.
Here I stand now. The hardest thing you will experience, in high school or in “real life,” is not actually doing the work presented to you, but time management. This is something I cannot teach you, only make suggestions. You must learn from experience, much like I did. If I had the schedule I do now my freshman or sophomore years, I would never make it. The biggest excuse I hear from kids is,“I don’t have time to do it.” Currently, I work 29 hours a week at a physically demanding job, I do undergraduate research two nights a week for 2 hours each night, I do independent research papers, I have a full class load and mentor here. If I have the time to be here, so do you. Time management is a discipline that cannot be learned, but rather is a long system of trial and error. I come from the school you stand in now, I have worked my way to where I am now. At the end of the fall 2015 semester, I will graduate with a Bachelors in Mathematics as well as a Bachelor in Physics Research. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not smart enough, or not good enough, or that it is impossible. If I can do it, you can. Let this experience change your life, it will be the best change you have ever had.