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2012 Dean's List Essay: Rachel Holladay

Rachel Holladay is a model of the enthusiastic STEM student that will change the culture of our world, devoting herself to this goal by living and breathing the ideals of FIRST. Now a junior, she has dedicated over seven years to promote FIRST Robotics in her school, community, and state, making an impact nationally and internationally. Perennially leading Team 1912 Combustion and blazing a trail in a region once unfamiliar with FIRST, she embodies the enormous potential of students that understand the positive power of FIRST and the critical role STEM must play in our future, a future that she is determined to improve and perfect.

Rachel's extensive efforts help build our team as well as our robot. She is a force on every facet of 1912, always leading by example. As a webmaster for 3 years, she transformed a site of 8 pages into an award winning website (Best Website 2011) and manages all our social media. Last year, Rachel served as historian, responsible for spirit, scrapbook, and awards. She gave the award winning Chairman's presentation and narrated its video, helping to organize our events into named initiatives (FIRST Flames and Torch Bearers). She is an essential part of 1912's year-long outreach program, anchoring nearly every event including robot demos, camps, parades, green projects, fundraising, and visits to sponsors and the state capital.

After 2 years of exemplary work on the controls team, Rachel became controls captain, training 4 new students this year. As a Beta Test veteran, this year she had phenomenal success as the team lead. She published a Kinect manual on FIRST Forums, assisting teams as far away as Israel and Mexico with a Kinect YouTube video that has over 5600 views. She coordinated classes in Inventor, LabView, 3ds Max, and web development.

But perhaps her most important work involves founding and mentoring new teams through the Ignition Team, a program she cofounded. After serving as head Science Camp counselor, she convinced 2 elementary schools to start 4 Jr.FLL teams. She mentors Jr.FLL 152 and 153, passing onto younger generations the skills learned from her own FIRST experience. Her Ignition team efforts moved 1912 funds to help start FRC Team 3946. To many other teams, Rachel is known as the talented electrical mentor who has helped 26 rookies get rolling at 3 Jumpstarts, the first person they consult for help or advice. She continues unparalleled efforts to assist teams throughout the build season. She makes multitudes of FIRST friends, even attending the prom with a member of Team 364. She serves as a USFirstGirls leader, and has extensive competition volunteering experience: Timer and Field Reset at the FLL State Championship, Bayou Regional, and FRC Championship, and Head of Field Diagnostics at the 2010 Bayou. At the 2011 Bayou VIP luncheon, Rachel eloquently spoke about the impact of FIRST, moving many in the crowd to tears.

Rachel has been recognized nationally as the first Louisianan to win the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, given yearly to 35 high school girls. She is a varsity swimmer, Creative Writing editor, Spanish Honor Society event planner, JETS captain, NASA INSPIRE student, and member of Quiz Bowl, Mu Alpha Theta, Debate Club, and 1912's SPHERES team. The Beta Club recognized Rachel's outreach skills and promoted her from assistant secretary to president.

But with all the success Rachel has achieved, she understands that her accomplishments so far are only the start of an ambitious future to earn a PhD in computer science, and apply the skills she has learned from years of dedicated service in FIRST. Rachel will always be a robotics person; friends know her as the indomitable force pushing our team to success, while other teams recognize her as a valuable mentor and the embodiment of gracious professionalism. One of the most intense and devoted leaders on 1912, Rachel Holladay strives to improve her world and promote FIRST's vision of a culture renewed.

Webmaster's Note: Rachel Holladay was a Dean's List Winner at FIRST Championship in 2012.

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