For Sarah Fogwell of Milwaukee, WI, volunteering with FIRST® has always been a family affair. Sarah, her parents, and her eight siblings have all been involved in FIRST in some way over the years. From participant to volunteer to alum, the friendships and community Sarah found in FIRST have kept her coming back. Now a college student and an employee of Rockwell Automation, a FIRST Strategic Partner, Sarah volunteers across all FIRST programs throughout the year.
How did you get involved with FIRST?
I got involved with FIRST in 5th grade when I switched schools and my brothers, who were in high school at the time, joined a FIRST® Tech Challenge team. This grew my family’s interest in the program, and we even started a nonprofit to support teams from FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. all the way up through FIRST® Robotics Competition.
When did you start volunteering?
I started volunteering in 2012, when I was 13. I began volunteering with the Field Control System in FIRST Tech Challenge and later became a Game Announcer and Emcee.
Why did you start volunteering?
I started volunteering because I wanted to see my friends from other teams who advanced to other competitions. Once I started volunteering, I met an amazing group of core volunteers who work hard to put on these events, and soon I was coming back to hang out with them.
What do you think is the most rewarding part of being a volunteer with FIRST?
It’s the people you meet, hands down. When you volunteer with FIRST, you meet people from all over the world. The connections you make can’t compare to any other program. I keep coming back to volunteer year after year at many of the same events in hopes that I’m going to run into the people I’ve met through the years. I’m originally from Pennsylvania but currently live in Wisconsin because a friend I made at the 2013 FIRST Championship in St. Louis convinced me to apply to the same college. We have continued that relationship and have been friends for 7 years now.
What advice would you give to a new volunteer?
Jump in. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. Whether you’re a queuer, a judge, or a member of the field reset crew, talk to the people around you and get to know them. You never know when those connections will come in handy. I’ve met people that work at Microsoft, the Dean of Engineering at Yale, the President of WPI, and the CEO of Rockwell Automation. It’s a great way to network and meet interesting people, and it’s great to be able to call on those people for references or job opportunities.
When she’s not volunteering with FIRST, Sarah enjoys skiing, weightlifting, and relaxing with her sidekick, Clyde the cat.