Newtown's Fatema Akhtar was named a FIRST Dean’s List Finalist, which recognizes outstanding leadership. Akhtar continuously demonstrated to the team her passion and commitment to the concept of FIRST, and her technical skills, creativity, and effectiveness made her a good choice.
Akhtar was nominated for the award by two other team members, who felt that she fit the ideal vision of what US FIRST stands for. Her teammates composed an essay that included parts of her biography that read like a novel. Akhtar came to America from a small village in Bangladesh in 2006, and from the time of her arrival, she exerted herself for a year and a half and came to an almost full understanding of the English language.
When she came to the United States, she knew little about technology until her sophomore year, when she entered her high school’s technology program. Once in the program, she was encouraged by her teachers to join the robotics team, which competes in the US FIRST Robotics competition annually. This was unusual, since the team was normally male-dominated. During her two years on the team, she has encouraged every one of her fellow members to do their best and try their hardest. She is also credited with inspiring other girls joining the team.
Akhtar is also the class valedictorian with a 98.6 average. Her enthusiasm and long-term commitment to FIRST include a desire to recruit even more female members than she has already, and tirelessly promote FIRST in both her school and neighborhood.
Her infectious enthusiasm and smile makes all members feel important and part of the family. She was especially motivating to the team during the last few days of this year’s building season ,when one of the team's key mentors abandoned them and they had to scramble to complete the robot.
Akhtar’s technical expertise and passion for technology grew enormously in the last six weeks. She went from a timid member of the team to a leader, delegating jobs and responsibilities while keeping the order and message of FIRST alive. She learned entrepreneurship and creativity by looking up the various parts and supplies that were needed as the robot took shape.