Having the ability to lead others is essential in today’s world. For approximately the past two years, I have been the team captain of my high school’s robotics team, the Combustible Lemons. The team has competed in a number of regional, state, and international under my leadership. However, our robotics team wishes to be well rounded, so we do more than just build robots; therefore, we also commit ourselves to service for our community locally and abroad.
Although being a leader can sometimes be difficult, I find great pleasure in being one because it is challenging, it is useful, and it is influential. Nearing the end of our robotics competition season in February 2014, when I was still a sophomore, I became a co-captain of the team. Although robot building is a major part of the competition, judges also take community outreach and teamwork into consideration when awarding accolades. However, the captain we had at the time was only concerned with robot design and performance.
Consequently, we were not working towards our goal of being a well rounded because our captain lost sight of this vision. Therefore, I had to step up to become a co-captain to attempt at rallying the troops, as we would sometimes say, to achieve our ultimate goal and have fun. As a co-captain, I ensured that everyone was on task, meeting deadlines, and having fun. However, when we went to our competition, we only faced failure after failure. That was because a poorly performing robot caused our team’s failure and we received no acknowledgement for our efforts in teamwork and service.
Therefore, we placed seventy-first out of seventy-two teams and we returned home with no awards. However, by the end of the competition, I believe that took the situation very well by learning from our mistakes. I learned the importance of understanding your constraints, testing your design, and listening to your mentors. By the time I became a junior, I became the head captain of our team; therefore, I made a number of minor changes to the team. As the new captain, emphasized the importance of being a better team that was well rounded, but also fun.
Since then, I have had to make difficult executive decisions, which included letting go a few team members and changing team goals. Today, even with the challenges we face, I believe that the team is having much more fun due to our accomplishments and good performance. Being a leader is an extremely useful method of learning life skills; would recommend everyone to be a leader at some point in their lives. I believe that when I became the captain of my robotics team, I have gained countless important life skills.
For example, I believe that I have gained a great understanding of resilience, dedication, responsibility, and teamwork. More specifically, to have resilience means to be able to quickly recover from difficulties and failures, to have dedication it means to be committed to a task or purpose, to have responsibility means to be accountable for your actions, and to have teamwork means to combine the efforts of a group of people. Furthermore, being a leader has also assisted me in my socializing and networking skills. When I was younger, I was a shy person.
However, because I have to present various presentations and meet many new people as the team leader, I have broken out of my shell and I know greatly enjoy acquainting myself with new people. Frankly, I have had many challenges and failures that I have had to overcome throughout my years, but with these life skills, I believe that I have been able to accomplish many of the goals I reach for. Other than the challenge of being a leader and gaining life skills, being a leader has also influenced my future goals. Although being a leader of my school’s robotics team has not changed my career goals, it as greatly influenced my goals in the terms of community service.
Since joining the team, I have volunteered for far more volunteering opportunities than I would have if I were to do them alone. For example, as team we have packaged thousands of nutritional meals for families in Central and South America. Furthermore, we have volunteered at other STEM related events in our immediate community. One of our larger service programs is the NXT Repurpose Project, which repurposes outdated robot brains, so that they are along with Lego robotics kits to less fortunate students across the world.
So far, we have donated robotics kits to students in Ghana, Kenya, and Serbia. In June this summer, we plan to travel to Kenya for approximately two weeks. While we are there, we will personally mentor and teach students how to build and program robots one-on-one, so that they will be exposed to STEM concepts with fun! Finally, being a leader for my robotics team has pushed me to commit myself to serve my community locally and globally more and more. Therefore, my goals are to volunteer for Living Lands and Waters, the American Red Cross, the AmeriCorps, Engineers Without Borders, etcetera.
Ultimately, I have learned a great deal as a leader of my high school’s robotics team. I have learned how difficult being a leader can be, but I have also learned that it can be great fun. Being a leader has also opened many great opportunities including overcoming challenges, learning life skills, and influencing my goals. In the future, I hope I can be a leader of an architecture or engineering fun because of the amazing experiences I have had as a leader in my school.