Supporting:Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas
Opening Up a World of Opportunities
One of the greatest joys in life comes from helping a youth realize that they can accomplish anything that they set their mind to. I experienced this personally when I served as the team mentor for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas' Robotics team for the 2011 season. Our team consisted of 10 inner city high school students who never considered STEM to be relevant in their lives. They all agreed to join the robotics team because they thought that it would be cool to tell their friends that they built a robot. They had no interest in engineering or math and none of them had ever used power tools before. We knew that we had a long road ahead of us, but we believed in the potential that our students possessed. We were committed to introducing them to all of the fun and opportunities that STEM has to offer.
The robotics season consisted of a six week build season and five weeks to prepare for the competition. It was a substantial time commitment. Our team met twice a week and every other Saturday. Our students were so dedicated. They begin to request more meeting days and for longer hours. They were committed to not only finishing the robot, but to making one that was competitive.
When we competed in the FIRST Robotics Dallas Regional, I went in with little expectation. I was so proud of the progress that our team had made. They went from a novice group to a true robotics team. To see them at the competition was moving. To any observer, you would have thought that they had competed many times before. Their pit was organized, everyone had a task to do and they were helpful to the other teams. On the field, their robot scored several points. (One of the few rookie teams to do that.) Though they did not make it to the finals, the judges were so impressed with them that they awarded them the Judges Award. To see the smiling faces of our team as they received their award was the crowning moment for me. The students were crying and so were the judges. One of the students said, “Ms. Cherri, winning this award is the best thing that has every happened to me.” I was moved to tears. In that moment, I realized that a whole new world of opportunities and expectations had just opened up for this group.
Two of the team members are now freshmen in college majoring in medicine and computer science, respectively. One of the members has plans to use her robotics experience towards a career in the Air Force and two team members have expressed that they would like to be engineers.
If I had it to do all over again, I would in a heartbeat. This is my way of helping connect a million minds. I am proud to be a part of this movement.