Meet Gaby Tovar, from Toluca City, located in Mexico State. She is the teacher, Head Coach for the PINK HAWKS, FRC 6606, Game Announcer and MC for FRC events, and field reporter at the 2018 FIRST Global.
Hello! First of all I would like to thank the Exploding Bacon, Team 1902 and the #FIRSTLikeAGirl movement for inviting me to write for the blog, I am very excited to have this great opportunity!
Tell us about yourself and how are you involved with FIRST?
I feel like I could end up writing a book because the learning experience FIRST has given me has been incredible and enormous. I believe that by sharing the experience gained, I give FIRST and my society everything it has given me, and as a consequence I can help the people close to me to grow and to improve the world together.
I am currently the Head Coach of the first 100% female FRC team in Mexico, PINK HAWKS 6606, and I owe it to all those people who believed in me since I was a student, and to those who still believe in me. I feel very honored to have received this position and to be responsible for the growth of these incredible girls who are looking for more involvement in STEM.
How has FIRST helped you accomplish your goals?
Once I think about the time I have invested in FIRST, I realize that it has been 1/3 of my life; from the beginning I fell in love with the project and with my FRC team at that time, the first year I managed to overcome obstacles that I had not even noticed, but it was not thanks to me alone, but to the great teamwork that is developing through the programs.
My trajectory in FIRST began when I entered as a student in the business area of the FRC team of my high school. I didn’t know much about administration, nor organization of events, nor public relations, but I was very surprised that a robotics team would have a need for all that, for what? In the path I realized that without the business area, it would be difficult for a product to be successful; in this case the robot. But more than the robot, to keep evidence of what was done, to inspire children, to know engineering from another point of view, to understand it more and even to lose the fear of robotics, mathematics and applied physics.
Do you recall any special experiences or challenges?
With my home team, I did many activities, but it all made sense when I went to my first regional abroad (at that time there were no regionals in Mexico, we’re talking about 2011-2012 season), and I discovered that FIRST really was more than just robots. Thanks to Engineering Inspiration Award, we achieved the ticket to the World Championship! I couldn’t believe it, but in the end, I realized that the prize was only the consequence of all the work of 1 year, and that it would be worthwhile to continue with all the social projects and outreach activities because I knew it was an experience that everyone should have. I also thought, “someday I would like to be like my role models and be able to share my learnings with younger and older people, even, someday I want to be able to leave a positive footprint in the world”.
In FIRST I have also had the opportunity to experience various roles, not only in the team, but also in the competition: I started with my first volunteer role in 2014 (year of the first FRC regional in Mexico), being Game Announcer. I was very nervous because I felt it was a lot of responsibility and I had no experience doing it, but with the practice and with the support of other volunteers, I became the female voice of the Mexican FRC regionals (it’s very exciting!), and if that weren’t enough, in 2017 I was chosen as MC (one of my dreams came true)! I had the honor of being the first Mexican MC, and then I traveled to the Laguna Regional to train the new MCs that would be on the field in that competition. Another incredible experience was as field reporter at FIRST Global in 2018 in Mexico.
I believe that one of my greatest skills is teaching and transmitting ideas (in fact I am a teacher at Tecmilenio High School, to which our PINK HAWKS 6606 team belongs) and I like to question students about the world, awaken their curiosity and encourage them to look beyond what they have at hand. I do the same with the members of PINK HAWKS, and I think I developed this skill in FRC (and I still do), so every “little” thing that we learn will serve forever, because they are things that aren’t learned in a classroom or online tutorials.
Why do you think FIRST is important for females?
All these experiences, trips, talks and people have made it very clear that women have the ability to break schemes and decide to do something for our future and that of humanity. Women and men complement each other and we have to take advantage of identifying our strengths to develop them and work as a team to reduce our personal weaknesses (which we all have and it is normal because we are human beings, but the difference is in what we decide to do with them).
What advice do you have for young girls who are interested in technology, but don’t know how to start?
FIRST is an excellent opportunity to all the girls to get involved in tasks that seem complicated for us, but in reality they are not. It is also important that you bear in mind that you are worthy to be a person, a living human being regardless of whether you are male or female, because we can all imagine, we can all contribute something to our world and we can all change it, and of course, we can do together #FIRSTLikeAGirl and support it! There will be difficult times, but we must remember that we are not alone. In this great world there will be more than one person who will support our cause and who will agree with our ideas, and when we find those people it will be time to ally and fight for the common goal, remembering that prizes are only the consequences of hard work, never the end.
What are your goals for the future?
I’d love to continue inspiring girls and women to give their all for their dreams in an honest way, with gracious professionalism and to continue helping in the development of the confidence and strength that girls must discover they have to succeed.