This 14-Year-Old Latina Is Leading Her Team To The World Robotics Championship

"I’ve never let my gender or my race put a barrier in anything I do."

Valerie Castillo and her middle school robotics team from Lancaster, Calif. built a championship winning robot in a week. 

The 14-year-old is the team captain leading competitors from Fulton and Alsbury Academy of Arts And Engineering, which opened in August 2016, to a robotics world championship. The team won the California state championship on March 4.

“We only had a week to build a robot compared to other schools, who had 3 months in advance to build a robot,” Castillo explained to Fusion. “So when we [became] State Tournament Champion, we were amazed. We were blown away about what we could accomplish in a week."

Castillo told ABC7 in Los Angeles the team built “a simple robot” for the state competition. “It was light. It was fast,” she said. 

The Latina teen is the child of two Mexican immigrant parents and is planning to be the first person in her family to go to college. Castillo wants to attend MIT after high school to pursue a degree in engineering.  

“I’ve never let my gender or my race put a barrier in anything I do,” she told Fusion.  

In the meantime, Castillo and her team are preparing to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky in mid-April. The team set up a GoFundMe account in order to fund their airfare, hotel, registration, and meals with a goal of $18,500.