Meet Dina, founder of New Horizons
Dina has always had a strong passion for STEM, so when she discovered her school’s FIRST® Robotics Competition team she joined right away. Since then, she has fallen in love with the welcoming culture that her team and the FIRST® community have built and sees the FIRST community as a safe haven for students to grow.
Dina, who is now a junior in high school, is the child of immigrant parents and did not have the same exposure to STEM or know of the opportunities available to her. She noticed that this experience was very common within the immigrant community and decided to take it upon herself to ensure that all students have access to these important learning opportunities. To get more students involved with STEM (and specifically FIRST) she created New Horizons.
New Horizons is a program that aims to bring STEM and FIRST to students who belong to immigrant families, by hosting outreach events. Program volunteers walk through all aspects of FIRST and clearly demonstrate the steps to get involved. The first New Horizons event was at her school’s culture fest this past year and was an overwhelming success. Learn more about Dina and New horizons in the Q & A below.
FIRST Staff: Can you share a bit about your experience growing up, and how it influenced your decision to start New Horizons?
Dina: My parents were unfamiliar with the opportunities available to students coming to the United States, growing up I learned how to be assertive and discovered these opportunities; however, I wished that I had been exposed to them from a younger age, to set a stronger foundation for my future self. I didn’t want others to experience this and wanted to do whatever I could to diminish this feeling.
FIRST Staff: How has your experience of growing up in an immigrant family helped you on your robotics team and in life?
Dina: My experience brings a new perspective to the table, like a one-way road with newly discovered pathways that lead to new beginnings, which comes along with new thoughts and ideas. One of those being New Horizons. Ever since I created New Horizons my team has been successful in reaching individuals across the United States and soon to be around the world.
My experiences growing up made me aware of the false realities that society hides and the challenges that others endure.
FIRST Staff: Who are your role models in the STEM field?
Dina: My parents. They did not grow up in the USA, they grew up in Sudan, a country in Africa. They pursued their education there and endured difficulties and challenges in coming to the USA. I have always admired and been inspired by their resilience and ambition in pursuing their goals. This is a driving motivator for me to help individuals worldwide get exposure to the STEM field at a younger age.
FIRST Staff: What is your dream career?
Dina: To become an anesthesiologist; both my parents are in the medical field. I grew up familiar with the lifestyle and fell in love with seeing them change lives each day. I’ve had my mind set ever since I was younger and have been setting milestones for myself to accomplish throughout my journey
FIRST Staff: What makes you feel empowered?
Dina: My mind. I’ve always been so optimistic throughout my life which gives me a lens to see the world as an endless road. The possibilities are limitless, and we are the ones who create the limits, so why not let our minds run to accomplish greater things? This mindset allows me to accomplish and even surpass my goals.
FIRST Staff: What sparked the idea to create New Horizons?
Dina: In February of 2022, I was helping my peer, who is also a second-gen immigrant prepare for her Yale interview, she told me about the similar experiences she faced and the regret she holds in not becoming exposed to the STEM field at a younger age. From there I realized that I had peers who shared the same challenges that I faced when I was younger which acted as a motivator for me to pursue change.
FIRST Staff: How are you empowering those whom you’ve reached through New Horizons?
Dina: Through New Horizon outreach events around the United States, we provide information about the STEM fields and how to become affiliated with FIRST robotics, and the positive outcomes and knowledge that sticks with us throughout our lives. Students share their experiences with others and encourage them to pursue their interests.
FIRST Staff: What’s next for New Horizons?
Dina: I plan to grow this program internationally and have a designated award for New Horizons in the FIRST program where teams can write an essay about how they were involved with this program and how they intend to positively influence their society. I feel that this is important to ensure that New Horizons is sustainable.
FIRST Staff: How can others support what New Horizons is doing?
Dina: By reaching out to schools and spreading the word about New Horizons. To start a New Horizons chapter on your robotics team or school you can message us on Instagram at @new.horizons2506. We are stronger united, let’s step up and make a difference.