Student Spotlight: Elaina Ashton


Elaina Ashton

Elaina Ashton(second from the left) at the 2018 Change Makers Hackathon Level 3 IoT Winners. Image taken from

Elaina Ashton, a senior, is an incredible and inspiring woman who embarks her passion in robotics tremendously. She is involved in many organizations and clubs such as FLL, Girls Who Code, services for STEM, and much more. A particular association that she does is Education Empowers, a non-profit organization that introduces children, teens, and young adults confidence for them to enable scholarships and career opportunities. Their mission is to “EMPOWER through EDUCATION, focusing on STEM, Robotics & Sustainability Education for children.” I interviewed Elaina to share her other exemplary accomplishments she partook in.

Q: What ignited your passion for robotics?

A: I took the class my freshman year. Doing the class, I was able to have a more hands-on experience to what the robotics club would be like. That is personally how I got in to robotics; however, I know that others were introduced about robotics by hearing it from other people or articles that had been written about the club.

Q: Can you explain what the club Girls Who Code is?

A: Gina Brasen started the club and is in robotic club as well; Mrs. Hoang sponsors the robotics and Girls Who Code. The program was made by the Girls Who Code Foundation, which is an initiative taken to get more girls into coding. Even though there is a a vast increase of women going into STEM, there’s still a very low percentage of woman going into coding. This program is a boost to give more girls experience in coding before college.

Elaina Ashton (top left) Clairssa, Mikayala, Stuthi, Diya, and Mahima were the 2016-17 FLL state level award winners, our All-GIRLS team “The Queen Bees”. Image taken from

Q: You are the co-founder of Education Empowers; could you explain what the organization is?

A: Education Empowers provides a robotic curriculum to Title 1 schools, The Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and we are official partners of the Girl Scouts Foundation. We make a robotics curriculum where individuals can learn and take that information to their school for the purpose of making a robotics club. So, Title 1 schools are where majority of the students are part of the forgotten communities, or extremely underfunded. By doing this, we are giving a lot materials that they didn’t have before to do robotics club. We also do Train the Trainers, which is an initiative to have people who are interested in the community come and learn our robotics curriculum and how robotics run to use that information to start a robotics team. We have about 40 teams in Arizona who compete in the FLL (First Lego Robotics), which has actually started to branch out in California and Oregon. There are three locations in Oregon and two in California.

Q: What are some accomplishments you’ve achieved in robotics clubs?

A: For robotics specifically, I was the first freshman to ever get on the varsity robotics team, and I became president during my junior and senior year. I am the president of an all-girls FRC (First Robotics Competition) team, a Chandler-community based team that competes worldwide. I do a lot of robotics outreach with the non-profit and go to a lot of STEM events. Here on campus, I’m the Chief Science Officer, so I hold all the STEM events at school called STEM Knight where kids can actually get extra credit by coming to the event. Colleges, non-profit companies, and even Intel comes and shows the students what STEM is like. I was the CSO of The Year in my sophomore year; for my outreach, I was rewarded the Mayors Youth Volunteer Award my junior year; and I was on Governor Doug Ducy’s STEM advisory board where I advised him on STEM education and information that could be implemented in policies like that.

Q: You for sure seem like a busy woman, so what other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

A: I love tennis and yoga – they are usually my stress relievers, robotics takes up a lot of my time, but I also enjoy reading because it is something to keep myself busy with.

Elaina is surely an inspiring woman, she gives back so much, not only to the robotics community but to STEM and education in general. Thank you, Elaina, for doing this interview; we truly appreciate what you do for this school and everywhere else.

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