West High Senior WIns Prestigious Robotics Award


Austin Gerrard

Fikir (Fifi) Teklemedhin is a West High student with a lot on her plate. During her time at West she has been a part of HOSA, cheerleading, web development, and the IB Program. Another one of her academic endeavours is the West High robotics club. She has been on our school team, Red Rock Robotics, for 3 years. In recognition for her hard work and service, not only in our school but in the surrounding community, she was nominated for and won the prestigious robotics Dean’s List Award. The Dean’s List Award is a nomination and interview based award. Roughly 10,000 students are nominated each year, meaning Fifi was in the top 0.01% of students nominated. She represented the Rocky Mountain region and went on to be selected at the national and then world championship level. This award, according to Fifi, is based on “community service and leadership as well as technical experience in robotics”. When the award ceremony was broadcasted, Fifi did not even think there was a chance she could win, simply because there are so many nominations each year. It wasn’t until hours later when she checked that she learned about her big victory, and needless to say she was shocked. 

Fifi has done robotics since 7th grade, when she took a programming class and got hooked, which led her to learn how to program robots with the First Tech Challenge program. She now works as the Outreach Captain for Red Rock Robotics, a job in which she “makes sure that everybody is aware about opportunities in robotics” and also “makes sure that people in our school know about the resources available to them”. This includes recruiting members and spreading the word through publicity. She also helped start a local middle school robotics program with the city library, which will be starting later this year. She also makes sure that everyone in her team is doing things that they find enjoyable, and that everyone is included in projects and work. 

Doing all of this, as well as all of the other events and programs that Fifi has done while at West, is not easy. Her advice to anyone out there who wants to pursue multiple interests at once is to “not force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, and then the things you want to do will naturally evolve and you will naturally grow within them.” This way the things you love will bring their own rewards and you will be happier overall. She also advises people to not dismiss STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) because in this growing world, it is becoming “a basic literacy. In the same sense you want your kid to learn how to read, you want your kid to know about technology and understand any science, because it is fundamental to the world we are living in now more than ever.” Lastly, she believes that giving back and helping share knowledge to others is how you “foster a good community and […] a collaborative environment”. Even if you don’t feel the most successful or knowledgable, if you are kind and work hard on what you love, then both your life and the lives of those around you will change for the better. All of these beliefs and pieces of advice played a major part in Fifi winning the Dean’s List Award, and she wants to help others be able to achieve great things as well.