First Recipient of the Edward Frick Technology Achievement Award
Moore County Schools Graduate Shows Leadership in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Becoming the First Recipient of the Edward Frick Technology Award.
Mayra Pulido, a North Moore High School 2021-22 graduate, is the first recipient of the Edward Frick Technology Achievement Award. Over the next ten years, the award will fund one Moore County graduating senior with a $1,250 scholarship to pursue post-secondary education in STEM-related career paths. The funds are made possible by Edward R. and Sally Frick in partnership with the Public Education Foundation of Moore County.
Mr. Frick is a retired IBM executive who designed and installed the company’s first online banking system and its first banking computer network. As a person in the technology field, Mr. Frick believes the award can help build a student’s path to a STEM-related career. Mr. Frick has seen the initiative that Moore County Schools are doing in STEM and hopes the annual scholarship will motivate students to pursue a career in the field. He believes awarding the scholarship to graduating seniors will help younger students envision themselves following the same educational path.
The award was presented to Mayra by Mr. Frick this past spring at the 5th annual Building Engineers K-5 Classrooms Conference robotics showcase held at Pinecrest High School, co-sponsored by the Region 6 Comprehensive Center (RC6) at the SERVE Center, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), and Moore County Schools. The showcase featured 86 teams from all 13 elementary schools in Moore County.
Mayra described what it meant for her to win the award. “It’s an honor to receive the award.” She believes winning comes with a responsibility for her to be a leader for younger people in STEM programs. She would like other students to know they can pursue a career in the STEM field. “I want other students like me to know they can continue their education and do this.”
Mayra’s initial interest in STEM started with a broken cell phone. “When I was in the 6th grade, I dropped my iPhone on the floor, and the screen was completely shattered.” Mayra believed she could fix the phone because she was already taking robotics classes. “Unfortunately, I failed.” Mayra told her mother, “I will fix the cell phone screen one day.” Mayra knew back then that succeeding in STEM would take failing and restarting. Her determination is what sparked her interest in STEM.
In a previous interview, Steve Johnson, the STEM Specialist at the Serve Center, said, “STEM tasks are set up to be very failure driven.” He explained that the failure students experience helps develop their problem-solving and leadership skills.
Since the 6th grade, Mayra has competed in at least ten robotics competitions at the district and state levels. She has been a key contributor to many robotics teams like the North Moore High School All-Girls Cyber Patriot team, which reached the silver status each year and finished in the top three in the last two years. Mayra was also a key contributor to the Girls Go Cyber Start Team from North Moore High School. The team was one of nine from North Carolina to qualify for the National Round in the 2019-2020 school year.
Mayra knows that she could not have accomplished the academic success she has thus far without the support of her family and teachers. She credits her interest in a career in STEM to her robotics coach, Tyler Callahan, the Digital Integration Facilitator for Moore County Schools. “He is my role model; someone I look up to.” Mayra watched Callahan work with Technology almost daily, inspiring her to pursue a STEM career. “It made me believe I could be like him and maneuver through engineering and technology.”
When Callahan learned that Mayra mentioned him as a role model, he said, “I was humbled and honored,” adding, “It’s extra special coming from Mayra.” He described the overall motivation Mayra has and her potential as “unmatched.” He said, “Mayra is not only a great student but a true leader. Callahan is confident Mayra will be a role model for many people throughout her life. “I know that is going to happen.”
Mayra embodies problem-solving and leadership skills. Over the years, “I saw her becoming someone other students would reach out to when they had questions,” said Callahan. “I think STEM has played no small part in that it is definitely something that made a good foundation for her leadership skills.”
Mayra wants to maintain the role of a leader. She believes a leader must put in the effort they want to see in the world. “I believe as a leader if you want to change, you must be a part of that change.” Mayra also believes a good leader knows how to work as a team. The difference Mayra aspires to see in the world is to use what she has learned in STEM to help change pollution. “It is a big issue in today’s world. I hope someday I can help solve this problem.”
Mayra advises other students interested in STEM, “If you know that you are interested in a STEM subject, choose that path and stick to it.” She encourages students interested in a STEM career to focus on school and take suitable classes to help them prepare for a future in a STEM-related field.
Mayra plans to start college this fall at Sandhills Community College in Moore County, pursuing an associate degree with a pre-engineering track. While in college, Mayra expressed her interest in expanding her knowledge in STEM, and with that knowledge, she would like to start a career in STEM.” Mayra would like to complete her four-year degree at UNC Charlotte.
Story: Sana Silvera-Roy, Communications Specialist, SERVE
Photo: Curtis Burgins, Communications Specialist, SERVE