Student Impact Stories
FIRST program participation continues to motivate team participants to explore technology and scientific career fields they never before considered. On member, after working alongside mentors on the robot's electrical components, is now pursuing a career as an electrical engineer. Team participants now realize that they are not limited to the traditional career choices of their grandfathers. They see a much broader range of educational and career possibilities for themselves.
Danielle, a senior at CCHS, is a "rookie" on the team. Danielle states that since this was her last year, she thought it would be a great opportunity to join robotics and see what FIRST was all about. Danielle says that one day she would like to come back to the tribe and share the knowledge she learned with other students. Danielle's duties with team #590 includes helping with the animation and managing the team's "bible", where the team members keep up with each other. (Sub teams post what they are doing each work session.) Thanks to the FIRST program, Danielle has become an active participant and ultimately brought out of her "shell".
Fred, a junior at CCHS, has been on the team for three years. Fred says that as a child he enjoyed building with Legos and heard that CCHS had a robotics team. Like Danielle, Fred thought joining would be a great opportunity. Because of the FIRST program, Fred says that after high school, he would like to continue his education with a major in engineering or computer science. Fred says that he too, would like to come back to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to help mentor students in the field of science and technology. Fred also says that the FIRST program gave him a whole new outlook about technology. Fred serves as the co-captain for team #590, he also helps design the team's t-shirts and buttons, and worked on Tushka VIII, the team's robot. Thanks to FIRST, Fred has become a more mature, responsible young man. The program has taught him the value of time management and teamwork.
As a FRC alumni, Meritza Henry was given an opportunity to experience a lot during her involvement with the robotics program. She is currently pursuing a degree in science, biology to be specific. She is also currently employed with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians NASA Educator Resource Center and is a mentor for the team. She enjoys working with students and volunteering her time to be a good role model.
Cheriena Ben, a FRC alumni, was a member of Team 590 for two years during high school. Cheriena decided to join robotics during her Junior year and helped launch the FIRST LEGO League program in the Choctaw Tribal Schools which has recently ran its 6th tournament. Cheriena also entered the science fair that year and placed all the way to the International Science and Engineering Fair, the only student from Choctaw Central High School to ever do so. Cheriena's specific duties with Team 590 were planning activities geared toward the spirit award and helped design the web page. The FIRST program taught Cheriena the value of researching material, time management, and teamwork. Now Cheriena, after graduating from the University of Denver with a bachelor of science degree, is employed with Applied Geo Technologies here with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
- Kristi Willis, a FRC alumni, was a member for three years. Since Kristi had an interest in science and engineering already, she thought it would be a great opportunity to join the team hoping it would broaden her horizons. Kristi's specific duties with the team included operating the robot, which she truly enjoyed, and engineering the robotic arms. Kristi says that the FIRST program has taught her the leadership roles that she now uses as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Benefits Assistant Coordinator for the Tribal Risk Management Office.
School & Community Impact Stories
We strive to be examples of teamwork and community outreach. Our elders often remind us that we are the leaders of tomorrow. There is no ending to the possibilities that await.
FIRST provides opportunities to expose Choctaw students to career choices they historically have not been exposed to.
Participation in FIRST helped identify the need for a vocational center in the Choctaw Tribal Schools where students could learn specific job skills, consequently broadening educational opportunities for the students. Hence, the opening of the Choctaw Tribal Schools' Occupational Training Center. There, mentors follow local, state, and national educational standards while conducting lessons during the robotics season and beyond. FIRST helps students meet competencies in mathematics, science, and technology by providing an opportunity for hands-on, meaningful instruction in these areas.
We are creating new traditions for Native Americans. We mentor eight Choctaw FIRST LEGO League teams, and organize a local tournament for them. We have made contact with five other Native American high schools spread geographically throughout the United States to potentially mentor.
FIRST has spawned a community environment of learning that is both fun and functional. Our FIRST LEGO League tournaments and involvement in National Kids' Day generated a ground swell of community involvement that continues to grow. A recent technology conference hosted on the Choctaw Reservation featured our FIRST project and Team 590 to illustrate the emerging technology and science-friendly business environment of the Choctaw community.
FIRST Robotics has opened opportunities for our members to speak at national conferences such as the Native American Fish and Wildlife Conference and the Native American Technology Conference. Activities have been generated to encourage other Native American students to begin their own FIRST teams.
A growing number of Choctaw students, after participating in FIRST, are entering universities for a higher education and returning to the tribe to work for their people. Past members are either working for higher departments or are in the fields involving science and technology.