Tell us about yourself and how are you involved with FIRST?
Hello! My name is Naviya, and I have been involved in FIRST since 2010. I mentor FLL and FTC teams and graduated from on FRC Team 2473, in Portland, Oregon as well! I have always enjoyed playing with Legos and building robots, so my leap to STEAM was quite enjoyable. On team 2473 I created a sub-group called Pathfinding Missions Group, a project-oriented first year training program modeling diversity and inclusion.
What and/or Who inspired you to get started with FIRST/STEAM?
It all started when one of my close friends won an award sponsored by Marvel. I then had the opportunity to see some really innovative designs that showed how young children could change the world with apparatuses smaller than a table. This inspired me to join FIRST when I was 6. I attended a robotics competition and I was one of three women in a crowd of 100 competing boys. At that moment, I witnessed first hand what the gender gap was. We ended up winning the competition and I became really passionate about STEAM.
How did you get to where you are now?
Well, for me it took time and patience. Success is not easy, especially when competing with so many other people and how stressful being on a robotics team can sometimes be. Yes we have our ups and downs, but in the end we are all one community looking out for one another. I have practically grown up surrounded by STEAM Education. It began when I was exposed to NXTs and block programming at a young age. From there, I have been a part of many teams and have founded a non-profit organization called STEM Ladies Unite!, where we aid in representation of ladies in STEAM. In addition, I am the Director of Outreach for STEM4Girls, and have a new, all-girls sustainable development initiative for my school. This is using a compost that I created and patented from scratch! I felt like the gender gap in STEAM was a huge issue that needed to be solved. Engaging young women is the best way to accomplish that.
What do you like best about being a FIRST team?
I loved the sense of community we have. While being the oldest girl and one of only four girls on our team can be difficult, having people who will listen to you and can hear your concerns binds the team together. It made us stronger, and that is what I loved about being on FIRST teams.
How has FIRST helped you accomplish your goals?
FIRST taught me resilience, how to be headstrong – stubborn even, especially when others do not listen to you. It has taught me time-management, and that everyone matters, even the Director of Outreach, because they also do the real heavy-lifting. The youngest minds in the room often have the most innovative thoughts that must be heard. It has taught me the importance of good sportsmanship, organization, and how to handle stressful situations.
Why do you think FIRST is important for females?
FIRST establishes that women CAN change the world. FIRST and STEAM teaches young women that we CAN build robots. That we CAN code. That we CAN design using CAD. That we CAN accomplish so much more in our lives. We CAN because educating a girl is educating a country for generations to come.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to get into military STEM with applied forensics. I find it extremely interesting because this is our future. In my opinion, helping save lives and using STEAM (which I have grown up with) is the future. I believe that we all must live in a harmonious society, united. We must use our STEAM knowledge to help save our planet. We are the future. We must lay the path for the future.