FIRST Newsletter - January, 2012 - Scholarships

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Million-Dollar Advocate: Kettering University Has Invested $2.5 Million to Support FIRST Scholars

Kettering University has been an active Scholarship Provider with FIRST for almost 15 years and was among the first three universities in the U.S. to offer dedicated scholarship support. These days, the University, located in Flint, Michigan, awards up to 20 FIRST Scholarships annually, each valued at $22,500.

Bob Nichols, Kettering’s director of External Relations, said financial support for FIRST has grown substantially in recent years. “We were among the first to recognize the extraordinary talent of FIRST students,” he said, “and since 1999, Kettering has awarded more than $2.5 million to support FIRST Scholars. That’s because Kettering recognizes that FIRST students are the country’s future engineers and scientists.

“Kettering is a national leader in combining rich opportunities for experiential learning and co-op education — making it a perfect fit for FIRST participants,” Nichols explained. “Between 20 and 25 percent of all Kettering students are FIRST Alumni, so that’s a lot of FIRST knowledge walking around our campus.”

Robyn Thurston receives Kettering University FIRST Scholarship from Bob NicholsRobyn Thurston, a sophomore from Midland, Michigan, said FIRST is more than just a common experience at Kettering — it’s an addiction! “Staying involved in FIRST wasn’t an option for me,” said the former member of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 2619 “The Charge of Midland.” “It was a necessity. It isn’t hard to stay involved. You just have to want to find a way. Even if you can’t be a Mentor, you can volunteer.” Pictured left, Robyn receives a $22,500 FIRST Scholarship from Kettering University's Bob Nichols in 2010.

Robyn is currently a FIRST Ambassador at Kettering and serves as a FIRST Mentor for Team 314 “Big Mo of Flint” and Team 2337 “The Enginerds of Grand Blanc.” She has served as a judge for FIRST LEGO League (FLL) at district and state levels and been a Volunteer for Michigan’s FRC district and state championships. “Staying involved in FIRST gives me a constant reminder of why I chose the field of study that I did,” said the Business Administration and Marketing student, whose co-op job is at Daimler Trucks of North America in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Kettering offers her plenty of opportunities to stay involved. The University sponsors three large events each year:

  • the annual FRC Kickoff weekend in January that attracts about 400 visitors to campus;
  • a two-day FRC Michigan District Competition each March that attracts up to 2,000 people; and
  • the annual Kettering Kickoff, which helps high-school teams "kick off" the start of their competition season by using the game, rules, and robots of the previous year’s FRC season. Around 1,500 attend the event each year.

“The KettFIRST Alums at 2011 Kettering Kickoff competition in Michiganering Kickoff was founded in 2000 so teams can recruit new student teammates, build FIRST-style camaraderie, and develop their skills in a competitive environment,” Nichols said. “It’s a very special event to us. We celebrated our 13th annual Kettering Kickoff in September 2012.” Pictured right, Alpha Phi sorority sisters Robyn Thurston, Hayley Schuller, and Elizabeth Busch, helped bring the FIRST logo to life during the 2011 Kettering Kickoff Robotics competition in Michigan.

Added Robyn, “Helping other students discover their passion makes the time spent worth it. I tell others to remember what FIRST meant to you in high school and give that to the next generation of FIRST kids. You can make a difference in another kid’s life, the way that your Mentors did in your life not too long ago.”

Learn about the FIRST Robotics Mentoring Program at Kettering University.

Check out the 2012 FIRST Scholarship opportunities available to FIRST participants… more than $14 million from over 150 providers, including Kettering University. 

Written by Patricia Mroczek, Kettering University.  Photos courtesy of Kettering University.


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