#PeopleofSTEAM: Meet Sera

Sera is a student on FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 135 “Penn Robotics Black Knights.” She is also an active participant in her local musical theater scene, participating in 16 musicals over the years. She has a passion for STEM and the arts and has learned how to leverage her skills to help her in both disciplines. Currently on her FIRST® team, she is the team Drive Coach and heavily involved in the robot fabrication and design process. She loves to contribute her creative ideas to bring their robot to life. During the off-season she switches gears and focuses on community outreach where she can share her passion for STEM with others.  Keep reading to learn more about Sera’s passion for STEAM and how her STEM skills and theater skills work together to help her succeed. 


FIRST Staff: What is your favorite part of being on a FIRST team? 

Sera: My favorite part is the community. Last year was my first year on the team and I was blown away by how kind everyone was. Whenever we had issues with our robot, there were five people from other teams who were ready to help at a moment’s notice. Being on a FIRST team is also the most rewarding experience. I had never participated in anything competitive until last year, and this past weekend, I got to experience my first win. I’ve never cried so many tears of joy. 


FIRST Staff: In addition to FIRST, what other activities do you participate in? 

Sera: In addition to FIRST, I’ve been involved in musical theater since I was eight. I’ve participated in sixteen musicals, and I plan to make it seventeen this summer. I started musical theater because I’ve always had a passion for performing arts. I started dancing when I was two and I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. In eighth grade, I joined an audition-based community theater group for teens where we do community service, put on shows, and develop our skills as performers and people. 


FIRST Staff: How do you use your FIRST and STEAM skills in those other activities? 

Sera: The skills I’ve developed as a member of my robotics team, like public speaking and interpersonal communication, directly translate to my role on the stage, where I’ve utilized these skills to grow as a leader. I prioritize communication and always check in on everyone because I know just how stressful things can get. 


FIRST Staff: Can you share your thoughts on how you are making an impact in STEAM? 

Sera: For the past two years, I’ve helped run a STEAM program for all eleven of our school district’s elementary schools where students learn basic programming to navigate an obstacle course. Seeing the smiles on their faces when they successfully completed the course is amazing. I didn’t have that opportunity when I was in elementary school and seeing them made me think of just how much the work I’m doing means to them. 



FIRST Staff: Who is a “Person of STEAM” who inspires you? 

Sera: My robotics coach truly inspires me. He is always there when we need him, whether it’s to answer questions or lend a helping hand, and he never seeks recognition or reward. What truly sets him apart is his understanding of respect and the importance of mutual trust. He treats everyone with respect whether they’re a fellow coach or student. He recognizes our capabilities and empowers us to take ownership of our roles and to contribute meaningfully to the team. His dedication and selflessness inspire me to push myself as a leader and strive for excellence in all that I do. 


FIRST Staff: Do you have a message you want to share for students who are participating in FIRST today? 

Sera: Don’t be afraid to try something new. I wouldn’t be on my team if I didn’t take a leap of faith two years ago. I will be fully honest; I was terrified when I joined my team. I knew nothing about robotics, but it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. You’ll never know if you don’t try. 


Are you a person of STEAM? Share your story with #PeopleofSTEAM on social media or send us your story at marketing@firstinspires.org.