Thank You, Dad!

by Jessica Kelso, FIRST Team 1305 — Ice Cubed

For me, one of the most impactful people in my life has been my dad. As a 16-year-old girl on a robotics team and involved in other STEM-related activities, I believe that I stand out in my group of female friends because of my dad’s positive influence.

The environment a girl grows up in has a life-changing impact on her life. Family culture, conversations she hears her parents have, statements she hears her father making about gender, women and all subjects make a lasting impression. I was lucky to grow up with a dad who supported the decisions I made and was there cheering me on start to finish.

One of the main STEM activities my dad and I are involved in together is our robotics team, FIRST Team 1305. Dad is an engineer and uses these skills to be a great mentor for the team. Through my years in robotics, I have gained so many amazing memories with him as my mentor. I am very involved in the business and writing aspect of my team but that doesn’t stop him from welcoming me into our build space to work on the robots. My dad is proud of me for being on the robotics team and has been my biggest STEM role model in my life. My dad has a way of making everything fun, while learning at the same time. He is an example to the male members of my team in the way he demonstrates respect for the females and supports them in building robots. He has inspired me to be open-minded and stay in my STEM-related activities.

My dad’s influence has extended to many parts of my life. My dad was my Cub Scout leader and helped me achieve being the first girl Sixer (leader) ever in my Group. I grew up having science themed birthday parties with dry ice experiments and interactive explosions. Through the years my dad has mentored my FIRST LEGO League teams, supported me going on a mission trip to Kenya, and encouraged my projects like the e-NABLE 3D printing prosthetic hands for the disabled initiative. When I was interested in entering the STEAM Program at my school my dad was excited for me and helped me research and prepare for the application process. A fond memory I have with my dad is when I was 11 we had to replace the roof on our garage and after a long day of shingling in the pouring rain we came into the house to find my brothers baking with my mom. My dad has taught me to challenge the stereotypes.

He has always supported women in STEM and made sure my sister and I know that we can do anything we put our minds to. A new initiative I led on the team this year was our All Girls Robot Build-A-Thon which my dad helped me spearhead. This event was an effective way to get new and current female members involved and more comfortable in the build room. It gave the girls the opportunity to gain and strengthen building skills including CAD and programming. Dad was the lead mentor for this project and he worked with me to get all the materials necessary for our two-week event. He was ready to help every girl on the team succeed. This type of support from my dad is not uncommon and has helped me gain the confidence to put forward my ideas and plans at meetings knowing my dad will always be there to help.

My dad has taught me to advocate for myself. He doesn’t fight my battles; instead, he gives me the tools and encouragement for me to know that I can do anything. Yes, my dad is proof that fathers do make a difference in making strong, confident daughters!

Thank you, Dad!


Jessica Kelso


Jessica Kelso is a member of the Girls in STEM Student Executive Advisory Council, an initiative of FIRST Robotics Canada.


To learn more about the Dads for Daughters in STEM Campaign, click here.