Inspired Youth, Inspire You: The FIRST Student Point of View is an ongoing blog series dedicated to showcasing the unique perspectives of FIRST students about how to foster a more diverse STEM field, what they’ve learned from their FIRST experiences, and more.
FIRST is committed to expanding opportunities for all students to participate and thrive in FIRST programs. As part of this work, we want to highlight the unique experiences of the diverse youth who participate in FIRST.
We had the opportunity to chat with Mariana Escobar Gallegos, one of the students featured in the new documentary “More Than Robots.” She is now in her second year at university where she studies marketing and continues her participation in FIRST.
Mariana is a FIRST alumna and mentor of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4010 “Nautilus” from Monterrey, Mexico. During the 2020 INFINITE RECHARGE season, her team was able to compete just before the pandemic paused the FIRST season and all events were subsequently canceled. Although their robot didn’t perform as they had hoped, Mariana was most proud of how her team bonded and came together in the stands during their event.
FIRST has shown Mariana that she can do anything. She says, “Everyone is afraid of trying something new, and if you don’t like it, you do not have to do it. But I don’t think that happens; our team likes to involve everyone in everything, and it doesn’t matter what you like, we just want to see you grow as a person or as a professional. It doesn’t cost you anything to try it.”
You said that FIRST has shown you that you can do anything. What was it about the FIRST program that helped you build that self-confidence?
In FIRST there's no need to know everything to be part of the community, you only need to be curious and open to learning. Most importantly, you have the support of every team member that guides you along the way, and the way I see it is that teams work like an enterprise and it needs people everywhere, so basically, it's on you to try and just do it, knowing that you can always get back on your feet if you fail.
You are currently studying marketing at university. What drew you to the marketing field? What is your dream career and how has FIRST helped prepare you for that?
The people I'm surrounded by have inspired me to go into the great world of marketing, one of them is currently a mentor of our team. I personally love all kinds of entertainment and arts, so my dream career is to match marketing with those related projects. FIRST not only has been helping me build hard skills and soft skills from the very beginning but also, to try everything and build strong networking with people all around the world.
Do you have any suggestions for how we can raise awareness about career opportunities within FIRST and STEM in general?
I’ve noticed from some of my teammates that the best advice they can get has to be from experienced people (in this case people from STEM). It really helps them to have a wider view of what they can do and somehow, they get inspired to explore all the options FIRST has to offer.
How do you inspire other students to explore STEM and robotics?
Getting them in touch with people involved in STEM and robotics, showing them the different stuff they can do in their careers and inviting them to conferences or events.
What advice do you have for students who are not sure if they want to join a FIRST team?
There is nothing for you to lose, though I can assure you that it will be one of the best experiences of your life. It doesn't matter how much you know, because the best part of joining FIRST is that you are here to learn and have fun.
Do you have any role models in the STEM field? Who?
All my teammates of Nautilus 4010 are my top role models. Of course, I cannot forget our coaches; they have done so many incredible things and it has been really inspiring for me.
What makes you feel empowered?
People doing what they love and achieving things makes me feel so empowered. Nothing makes me happier than people being happy, somehow it gives me the strength and motivation to keep working for all of us and the future generations.
What is your superpower?
I’ve never thought of it, but I have always been good at listening. Some people have told me that it makes them feel seen and heard and not everyone can do that. I do relate to it because I love listening and talking to people when it comes to profound talks, believe me those talks are pure gold.
“More Than Robots” is available for streaming exclusively on Disney+.