All teams can say, “We are proud of our alumni; they have moved on to do amazing things.” Many teams can say, “We are proud of our Alumni mentors; they have come back and helped our kids do amazing things.”

I am a proud parent of two alumni of our team, both of whom have returned to be alumni mentors for our team. I was reminded of this today when my Facebook memory was a picture of one of my children being taught how to use our metal lathe during their freshman year of high school. Today you will find them teaching students the finer points of CAD, helping students assemble the robot, or working in the pit during competition helping students keep the robot in tip top shape. My other child was a writer/presenter/scouting guru, and today you’ll find them helping with impact essays and presentations, as well as working with the strategy, scouting and drive teams, helping our team perform to its full potential. (Full discloser, they have not missed a competition with the team since they graduated in 2016).

It makes me think about how strong the alumni mentor support is across FIRST, and we are not the only team this lucky. Many former FIRST students believe so strongly in this program that they come back to ensure that the program continues and improves for the students who come after. We currently have 9 mentors who are alumni of 1511, as well as an additional 2 alumni mentors from other local teams and 2 alumni that are mentoring another local teams.

Since the inception of FIRST®, millions of young people around the world have participated in FIRST programs, and each year thousands of students graduate high school and mark their transition from FIRST participant to FIRST alum. Over time, FIRST Alumni have come together to create a tight-knit community —rooted in a common experience —which spans the globe.

The culture that FIRST has created is one of giving back and helping to provide equal STEAM opportunities for everyone. This creates a strong base of people who are always willing to help other teams succeed. Walk the pits at any competition at any level of FIRST, and you will see people helping people be the best that they can be. Go on Chief Delphi or Facebook, and you will see questions being asked and answered, the sharing of knowledge and experience, making everyone better.

I think it would be safe to say that most teams would say, “I would rather lose to a team I helped, than to beat a team I could have helped but chose not to.” Here’s to my 11th year of mentoring. Good luck everyone, I hope we see each other in Houston!

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