“You know a mentor cares when they’re willing to crawl under a bathroom stall and share their embarrassing stories to calm your tears with no regard to district championship playoff matches,” says Anna (team captain) remembering a time where she felt she had let her peers down. This caring mentor was Kara Boyer, and she is an incredible support to many students in FIRST.
Kara understand students so well because she remembers being in their shoes. As a young girl, she was shy and lacked self-confidence, but also loved to build things. When she joined her FRC team in ‘03, she became the team’s chief engineer and captain. Kara is now paying forward the impact of her past mentor who encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone.
After mentoring base and chairmans for FRC 2936, she helped found our team, 5414, in the summer of 2014. “Kara’s compassion, skills, and dedication have a tremendously positive impact on our team culture, goals, success, and engagement of underrepresented and underserved”, says head mentor Andrew. Abbey, a 5414 alum recalls how she used to be afraid of using power tools. However, Kara hosted weekly “Gearbox Girls” sessions where she was able to guide and teach Abbey. Abbey says, “Kara genuinely and truly believes that anyone is cut out to pursue and be an engineer, and she is willing to put in the time and effort to take you where you need to be. She took me from a person who was afraid of using tools to now having a NASA co-op”. Kara created this platform to encourage girls to be creative, confident, and capable, and her initiatives to help girls find their voice, as proven by Abbey and others, has been successful.
Team members have recounted how Kara helps anyone find a purpose on the team. By engaging students with tasks such as creating a tech binder, they have felt more connected with the team, which also encouraged them to communicate with other subsystems. She inspired them to reach out to other members of the team; most of whom they wouldn’t have talked to otherwise. This is one of many examples where even a first-year student felt comfortable reaching out to Kara for guidance.
I see students on this team feel inspired by Kara’s passion and enthusiasm for each project we do. When we want to try something new, she encourages us by asking how we’ll accomplish it and helps guide us. In elementary, I used to be insecure of my intelligence and felt like I could never be a part of the STEM field. When I told Kara my story, she made me feel like I didn’t have to doubt myself and my abilities in STEM. Kara cared about what I was going through and because of her advice and understanding, I became more confident in my abilities and realized that I had strengths that I failed to see before. Kara believed in me, especially as a female interested in robotics, and encouraged me to pursue my interests. Through her unwavering support towards Pearadox and its goals, Kara has impacted countless lives.