2011 FIRST Scholarship Winner Testimonials

Here is what some of our 2011 FIRST Scholarship Winners have to say about FIRST and their FIRST Scholarship:

FIRST Robotics and Kettering University go together very well. They both teach hands-on skills that can be directly applied to the real world. The FIRST scholarship I was awarded by Kettering made my college decision an easy one. If it weren't for the Scholarship money I wouldn't have been able to afford to go to Kettering and that is why FIRST is so important.”

-- Paul Kizer, Team 1502, Kettering University, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering

FIRST is the reason I am at MIT and the reason why I want to study robotics and mechanical engineering. Being on an FRC team was an amazing experience where I learned concrete skills in engineering as well as leadership and teamwork. Receiving a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship played an invaluable role in making it possible for me to afford my dream school. FIRST is awesome, and definitely changed my life.”

-- Helena Wang, FRC Team 1758, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship

“It may sound cliché, but FIRST has literally changed my life. It has yielded so many opportunities that would not have been possible without participation in FRC. In fact, I would not have been able to pay for college if I had not won the full-tuition scholarship. It has been such a good experience, and I am continuing my FIRST involvement in college through mentoring. “

-- TJ Watson. FRC Team 177, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Class of 2015, Robotics Engineering, Winner of the WPI Design Innovation FIRST Scholarship

“The FIRST Scholarship gave me the financial opportunity to attend the school of my dreams. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was a perfect engineering school for a student like me. Tuition was very expensive. However, thanks to this wonderful scholarship, I am attending my dream school and studying my dream major (aerospace engineering). This is a great opportunity for all FIRST students to try.”

-- Jaron Wong, Team 2504, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ campus, Class of 2015, Aerospace Engineering, Winner of an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University AZ FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"I really appreciated that this scholarship was open to students intending to major in areas outside of engineering.  While FIRST is an amazing program for the engineers of the future, I think it is also a great program for future leaders in any field.  Being on a FIRST team not only qualified me for the scholarships offered specifically for FIRST students, but also helped me to earn several scholarships from other sources, without which I would not be attending the college of my dreams.  Thank you, FIRST!"

-- Julie Gattenio, Team 1622, University of Notre Dame, Class of 2015, Pre-Med and Spanish, Winner of a Teradata Corporation FIRST Scholarship

FIRST is not just for engineers!  Through FIRST, I was able to apply the physics that I learned in class to create a structurally sound robot.  I also became better in communicating physical concepts to my peers.  I came out of FIRST confident that math and physics are not limited fields; they are everywhere apparent and applicable in the real world.”

-- Tyler Wales, Team 2975, Louisiana State University, Class of 2015, Math and Physics, Winner of a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"Because of FIRST I learned to believe in myself and explore what the world has to offer. I plan to use the engineering skills that I learned in my FIRST team to design and create new medical devices and prosthetics. The FIRST scholarship is helping me get one step closer to achieving my dream."

-- Sina Famenini, Team 1515, UCLA, Class of 2015, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, Winner of a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"Getting a FIRST Scholarship has made a life-changing impact on my life, and I am incredibly grateful to those that helped provide me with it. This scholarship has given me the opportunity to participate in engineering organizations and focus on pursuing a degree in engineering, rather than worrying about immediately getting a job to pay for my schooling. I had wanted to come to the University of Minnesota, but thanks to the FIRST scholarship, I was able to justify spending the money to go to the University rather than to a technical college near my home. Again, THANK YOU FIRST ROBOTICS-- I can't begin to express how truly thankful I am."

-- Maggie Nelson, Team 2181, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Class of 2015, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, Winner of University of Minnesota/PTC FIRST Scholarship

FIRST showed me how much fun robotics is, but I didn't realize how much it had taught me until after I graduated.  The FRC program guided my interests toward engineering and computer science with a focus on robotics, which I am now pursuing at college.”

-- Vanessa Ronan, Team 3204, Harvey Mudd College, Class of 2015, Engineering or Computer Science, Winner of Harvey Mudd College FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST Robotics was undoubtedly one of the most important activities that I did in high school.  It prepared me incredibly well for the project-based engineering curriculum that I have encountered in college.  In addition, it led me to opportunities such as the Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship that greatly helped alleviate the costs of my education."

-- Nitesh Bajaj, Team 461, Purdue University, Class of 2014, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"I cannot over-emphasize the impact the FIRST program had on my choice of major. The competition opened my eyes to the world of engineering, and once I saw how the combination of creativity and science worked hand in hand, I was in love. The scholarship has allowed me to attend Brown Univerisity, a choice which will absolutely define my life from this point forward."

-- Pawel Golyski, Team 3474, Brown University, Class of 2013, Biomedical Engineering, Winner of a Raytheon FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"The experience of participating in FIRST Robotics Competition greatly influenced my decision to pursue a career in electrical engineering. I really enjoyed being on a robotics team and it got me interested in the realm of science and technology. Winning the scholarship made attending college much more feasible. It was one of the deciding factors in deciding which college to attend because there were more scholarships for it. I’d highly recommend that any seniors on a FIRST Robotics team apply for as many scholarships as they can."

-- Jacob Egorov, Team 3303, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Class of 2015, Electrical Engineering, Winner of a Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs FIRST Scholarship

"Many FIRST Robotics kids don't bother with applying for scholarships, claiming that they won't win anything regardless of whether they apply. They fail to realize how much aid is available through FIRST and how much it helps when trying to pay for college. Without FIRST, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Semester at Sea an education from the University of Michigan wouldn't have been possible, and I can't thank them enough."

-- Bradley Hekman, Team 107, University of Michigan, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of an ASME-ASME Auxiliary FIRST Scholarship and a Semester at Sea FIRST Scholarship

"Why apply for a scholarship? Why not? A few hours (or maybe even minutes) of your time can get you a scholarship than can be potentially worth thousands of dollars. Even with an engineering degree, you'll spend a lot more time working off college debt later than the time it takes to earn a scholarship now. You're being handed free money, and all you have to do is take it. You deserve it!"

-- Georgiy Mazin, Team 3332, Northwestern University, Class of 2015, Computer Engineering, Winner of the Northwestern University FIRST Scholarship

"The influence FIRST had on my life is enormous. FIRST gave me a taste of all the amazing things I can do and work with by becoming an engineer. Thanks to my time in FIRST I found what I wanted to do and was given help in pursuing that.The scholarship that I got helps me pay for college so I can better focus on becoming the engineer I want to be, instead of paying for college."

-- John Hines, FRC Team 2169, University of Minnesota, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a University of Minnesota/PTC FIRST Scholarship

"Being part of FIRST Robotics throughout high school had a profound affect on me. The monetary benefit that the scholarships provide are excellent, but in the end the knowledge and skills gained throughout my FIRST experience are as equally valuable!"

-- Aaron Robertson, Team 1810, Kansas State University, Class of 2016, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a Gates Corporation FIRST Scholarship

"My FIRST Robotics Competition scholarship was a very beneficial to my schooling. It definitely influenced my choice of which college to attend and my career choices. The scholarship will be a very necessary part for the financial needs of my college career."

-- James Wilson, Team 2654, Itasca Community College, Class of 2013, Engineering, Winner of an Itasca Community College FIRST Scholarship

"It was only two years ago that I decided to join FIRST Robotics Team 1421.  During my two years with CHAOS, I had an awesome time, and during my first year on the team I decided that Mechanical Engineering was the profession for me.  Attending a major university was not exactly the cheapest thing to do coming straight out of high school, but FIRST scholarships were available to offset that cost.  Scholarship applications can be a pain in the you-know-what (trust me, I know), but in the end, all of that work can definitely prove to be worthwhile."

-- Andrew Williams, Team 1421, Mississippi State University, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs FIRST Scholarship

"I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life until I joined my high school's FIRST Robotics Competition team during my junior year. Through my involvement with FIRST, I discovered that engineering was the perfect way for me to combine my interests in math and science. I gained so much invaluable knowledge and experience during my two years on TALON 540, and I won't forget the friends or memories I made there. Winning a scholarship from the organization that made it all possible was just the icing on the cake."

-- Ashley Hedberg, Team 540, Tufts University, Class of 2015, Engineering, Winner of a Raytheon Corporation FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST helped me figure out how I wanted to spend my future, as an engineer. The scholarship from Raytheon helped in my decision of attending WPI instead of a state school, and I couldn't be happier with my decision."

-- Zach Jasensky, Team 2836, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Class of 2015, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics Engineering, Winner of a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST is a great way to get real-life experience for day to day questions. Being a FIRST team member gives the leadership and teamwork skills needed for my career. Winning FIRST Scholarship gave me great encouragement towards my career and I decided to give back to the community by helping FIRST teams to achieve their goal."

-- Siyuan Gao, Team 3792, Purdue University, Class of 2015, Computer Science, Winner of the Purdue University Computer Science FIRST Scholarship

"Being in the FIRST Robotics Competition for four years—freshman to senior—has been a wonderful experience; especially since I was able to work as a team and as a leader, I constantly learned new things and taught them, later on to the younger students.   The basic skill set that the FRC has taught me will be applied to my college endeavors and to my future career(s) in a real workplace."

-- William Lee, Team 2134, Arizona State University, Class of 2015, Biomedical Engineering, Winner of an Arizona State University FIRST Scholarship

"My experience with FIRST has undoubtedly helped me to have a successful start in my college career.  The skills learned through my past eight years with FIRST, from electrical theory and assembly skills to interviewing and public speaking skills, have already made a positive impact on my first quarter courses.   The scholarship I won through FIRST has also aided in making my dream to attend Milwaukee School of Engineering a reality.  Without FIRST, my future would be drastically different."

-- Samantha Scharles, FRC Team 930, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Class of 2015, Electrical Engineering, Winner of a Milwaukee School of Engineering FIRST Scholarship

"Before FIRST the only thing I knew was I liked science and technical work. The US FIRST program further developed my interest in STEM through teams mentored by engineers and teachers who well understood their field. They loved talking about what they do for a living and pushed us to compete at our highest ability. Being one of the six who received the ASME scholarship proved to me that engineering is my calling. This scholarship now helps with paying for my undergraduate education which will ultimately lead me to what I would like to pursue."

-- Karen Schmit, Team 1539, University of South Carolina, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of an ASME-ASME Auxillary FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST allowed me to discover what I truly wanted to do in college. I had always thought about graphic design, but FIRST allowed me to see that robotics was where I rather be."

-- Holley Harrison, Team 3796, North Carolina State University, Class of 2015, Computer and Electrical Engineering, Winner of a North Carolina State University FIRST Scholarship

 "FIRST Robotics has had an enormous impact on my life.  All the positive experiences I have had with my team, 2161, and the FIRST Robotics Competitions truly played an integral role in my decision to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Farmingdale State College. It is such an honor to be awarded the Fred Breithut FIRST Scholarship.  Of course, this scholarship will help reduce my college expenses, but it means so much more.  It reinforces that participation in FIRST Robotics has been one of the most positive influences on me and my future.  Being involved with FIRST Robotics and Team 2161 has provided me with real life experience and leadership opportunities in addition to providing scholarship assistance to help me pursue my goal of becoming a mechanical engineer."

-- Brian Jaworski, Team 2161, Farmingdale State College, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Winner of the Farmingdale State College Fred Breithut FIRST Scholarship

"Gaining a FIRST experience is invaluable.  I was blessed with the opportunity to work with many people whose profession is in STEM and I gained many life skills.  Because of my FIRST experience, I am now attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, majoring in mechanical engineering.  I am also blessed with an internship and a job upon graduation with the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF; I get to serve my country by doing what I love to do most—mechanical engineering."

-- Stephen Nishihara, Team 2348, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a University of Hawaii/BAE Systems FIRST Scholarship and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF FIRST Robotics Scholarship

"My FIRST involvement gave me a real hands-on experience and prepared me for similar teamwork projects in college.  FIRST gave me both a learning experience, and built my confidence in talking to other people and working with others.  Because of my FIRST involvement, I earned a scholarship that is helping to pay for college.  The knowledge, experience, and scholarship earned by being apart of FIRST has helped me to be successful after high school."

-- Sarah Mead, Team 250, Clarkson University, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of a Clarkson University FIRST Scholarship

"My FIRST Scholarship was a key factor in me being financially able to attend my #1 school - Colorado School of Mines, where I am pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  I chose this school based on their outstanding robotics program, but tuition for an out-of-state school is very expensive and I would not have been able to go there without receiving this scholarship.  After competing for four years in FIRST Robotics, this scholarship was a truly special recognition of what I have done and where I am going in my chosen career of robotics.  It has also inspired me to share what I have learned by becoming a mentor to the FIRST Robotics Team at a local high school in Colorado."

-- Kaitlyn Martin, Team 1255, Colorado School of Mines, Class of 2015, Mechanical Engineering, Winner of an ASME/ASME Auxiliary FIRST  Clarke Scholarship

"FIRST Robotics has helped me in more ways than I can imagine at this point. When I first started out I thought this would just be a hobby but for me it has helped me realize my true potential and what I want to do. After participating for two years in high school I decided to continue along that path into college. I made my major mechanical engineering at Temple University. FIRST did more for me at this point. They gave me a $2,500 scholarship to attend Temple. I am thankful for all they have done and more."

-- Christopher Kambic, Team 486, Temple University, Class of 2015/2016, Mechanical Engineering, winner of a Temple University FIRST Scholarship

"When I started participating in FIRST, I thought that it was going to be nothing more than an interesting challenge.  What I didn't see was how many opportunities FIRST offers students (other than the actual experience itself).  FIRST shows schools and employers that you've got drive, perseverance, discipline, and work well with others.  This makes participation in FIRST invaluable and opened up opportunities that I didn't even know existed!  Not only did the scholarships it offered make school affordable, but it's enabled me to have two summers of work at the Air Force Research Lab's Space Vehicle Directorate and to continue on to a NASA internship at Johnson Space Center in the spring!"

-- Sam Pedrotty, Team 3014, New Mexico State University, Class of 2013, Aerospace Engineering, winner of a New Mexico State University/Boeing FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST has had a very large effect on my life, and in fact it was essentially the motivating force that lead me to looking into WPI. I had always had an obsession with robots since a very young age so helping start a FIRST robotics team at my school just made sense, but in reality I had no idea what I was in for. I planned on building a robot, I did not plan on making friends, learning to write and present, and I especially did not plan on singing. The spirit that enveloped my team, and that envelopes FIRST as a whole really surprised me, and drove me out of my shell, to a be a far less shy person. FIRST also gave me a lot of guidance in life. The mentors on my team showed me what it is like to work in the field, how to work in a group, and of course all of the technical skills that I am so lucky to have. FIRST also lead me to WPI, probably the first that I ever heard of WPI was a little foam cube puzzle that I got at a competition. WPI was just a acronym for all I knew, but visiting the campus (conveniently at the WPI FIRST regional) really impressed me. I was also particularly excited that WPI had the first robotics engineering degree. Now that I have spent half of a year at WPI I do not think that I could have made a better decision, the professors are great, and while the work is certainly not easy, I am able to work in what I love."

-- Christopher Keane, Team 2836, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Class of 2015, Robotics Engineering and Computer and Electrical Engineering, winner of a Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Design Innovation Runner-Up Scholarship