“I love working behind the scenes. It’s fun to be a part of sharing new ideas with people,” said Molly Powers, a senior at St. Gertrude’s High School, captain of two competition robotics teams, and community volunteer.
Starting in her freshman year as a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics Team member, Molly helped organize an all-girls robotics team that worked with the established team “CLUTCH” at Benedictine High School. Over the past three years, participation in this all-girl team has grown annually by almost 100%. Most people would think that being the Captain of a successful FTC team would be enough to keep you busy, but not Molly. She also helped start a FIRST Robotics Competition team of home schooled teens and St. Gertrude’s students. In just two years, this team competed against 57 of the best and brightest teams from Virginia, DC, and Maryland at the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton; won the “Industrial Design Award”, and attended the FIRST World Championship Competition in St. Louis. Molly says, “What I love about being a part of FIRST programs is that I feel like I learn something new every day.”
During her junior year, Molly was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity. While working as an intern for FIRST Chesapeake, she met Shelley Zalis, CEO and founder of the women’s empowerment group The Girls’ Lounge. Ms. Zalis contracted Molly to develop a working robot mascot named Ellie for The Girls’ Lounge. Molly and some of her St. Gertrude’s teammates were invited to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where Ellie debuted to over 160,000 convention goers from all over the world. While in Las Vegas, Molly also got to meet White House CTO, Megan Smith, and Director of Photography-lighting at Pixar, Danielle Feinberg.
Being a volunteer at the Science Museum of Virginia has allowed Molly to share her love of learning with thousands of visitors. Over the past four years, she has worked in the galleries helping families and individuals better understand the exhibits by explaining the scientific concepts behind the displays. Because of the breadth of the Museum’s exhibits, she has had to become an expert on everything from the workings of the human body, to a robotic arm, to the living exhibits. Sarah Farrow, Coordinator of Volunteers and Superstars at the Museum added, “It has been a joy watching Molly’s confidence grow over the past few years. In addition to volunteering in the Museum labs and exhibits, Molly has become a great advocate for the Museum’s mission. She was a speaker at last year’s Up & Atom Leadership Breakfast celebrating women in STEM fields. I am confident that Molly will succeed in whatever path she chooses!”
With only two months left until graduation, Molly is looking forward to pursuing her dream to become an electrical engineer. She has received FIRST scholarships to two prestigious engineering programs and has been accepted at several universities, including Rochester, Michigan and Illinois institutes of Technology. “It has been an inspiration to watch Molly grow into the self-confident strategic thinker that she is today. Her leadership and infectious love of learning has definitely made a difference in the STEM community. I am sure that she will continue to excel in whatever she puts her mind to as she enters her college career,” said FIRST Chesapeake Executive Director, Stan Southworth.
Not everyone who loves and understands STEM is able to communicate that passion to the people around them. Molly is one of those rare individuals who is both a technician and excellent communicator. The fact that she has chosen to share that talent is a gift to her classmates, coworkers, and everyone that she meets. When asked what she liked best about working at the Science Museum, Molly said that her favorite exhibit included the snakes. Maybe she should add snake charmer to her long list of accomplishments!
Article by: Leighann Scott Boland