Honestly, this post has been a long time coming. I've been involved with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) since I was in 4th grade almost nine years ago, and I can honestly say that my life has changed for the better. I was part of my district's first ever robotics team, competing at our first events, and winning our first awards. That experience was absolutely amazing, and now, working on an FRC team with robots and coding that 4th-grade me could only begin to imagine is even better.
So much of what I know today about computers, engineering, physics, and science in general comes through my exposure to FIRST. I've learned to work well with other people and how to use Git. Most importantly, however, I've learned how to properly deal with people above me making strange or irrational decisions. All of this has helped me strike out on my own.
FIRST has also cemented my love of public and community service. Most of my volunteer hours from last year came from FIRST events. I've served mostly as a scorekeeper, but I've also pitched in as an unofficial A/V guy when needed. One event last year had me running the playoff matches from my phone's hotspot. If that's not dedication, I don't know what is. Working with these kids, seeing their projects and dedication, it really inspires me to do better as a person.
My ideal college major has shifted a lot over the last few years. At first, I was sure that I was going to be a genius computer scientist, solving all the problems in the world. Then reality sunk in, and I changed to IT services. Competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition, however has convinced me that what I really love is building and coding robots. That's what I want to do in life, and that's what I'm going to college for.
I can highly recommend FIRST as a meaningful and fun thing for any young person to do. Whether you're a third grader or a senior, there's a program for you.