Monday, November 19, 2007

HSCC Testimonial: Monique Jones (2006-2007)

Hello, my name is Monique Jones and I am currently a graduating senior attending Garinger High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. I will soon be able to walk across the grand stage to receive my high school diploma in January 2008, and I just can’t wait until that day arrives! In the 9th grade, I started out my high school career as a very shy, quiet, and focused individual. By the 10th grade, I developed a reputation around the school as the “bookworm”, “nerd”, or “over-achiever” of every class I took part in. I had grown so used to working alone and being able to depend on myself to get the work done properly, that I failed to realize the benefits of group work and conversing with my peers.

Thanks to BDPA’s High School Computer Competition training programs, I was able to learn the value of teamwork and the advantages of networking and being more social with my peers. I joined up with the BDPA in the middle of 10th grade when we were preparing for the competition of 2006. Preparing for the competition for the first time was extremely challenging for me, mostly because the topics were all new to me. Prior to these classes, the most I knew about web design was pre-designed AOL engines that allowed the user to design pages by clicking and dragging text and images onto the screen. Simply learning basics such as HTML and how to create my “own” web page from scratch was an amazing new world for me. It was hard to get used to using and memorizing tags and attributes at first, but I became so excited to see my designs creatively work and flow together to form my “masterpieces” (plain and simple as they were). Somehow, my determination to master this new art and the multiple choices questions that came along with it earned me a spot on the competition team representing Charlotte. It was such a surprise to me that I had come that far, because I initially started the program to be with a friend and have an excuse to get out of the house every week. Never had I imagined that I would develop a talent for programming or to be one of the few chosen to participate on the team; but I am sure glad that I did!

With the contributions of our chapter’s main sponsor, Martin Davis (Corporate CIO for commercial technology at Wachovia), our team was able to fly to both conferences in 2006 and 2007. It was nothing short of amazing to be able to travel to the areas of Los Angeles, California and Washington D.C. The trips were great because we were able to see another side of the country that most of us had never seen before. It was a great eye opener for all of us into the daily lives of people in different environments; from coping with the chills of living on the west coast to overcoming fears of traveling underground in subways. Since most of us became pretty tense and nervous while anticipating the competition’s end and the announcement of the winners at the Awards Ceremony, touring the atmosphere outside of the hotel was a great escape from all of the pressures of last minute cramming and catching up with jetlag. Thanks to HSCC, we also have these unique experiences to go along with the claim of being an east coaster who had actually visited California before.

Going back to the HSCC training for the second year was wonderful! We had a variety of new instructors ready and willing to teach us everything we needed to know to prepare yet again for the competition. I was a lot more confident with my own abilities so catching on to the new material was not as much of a problem as it was before. It all became a game for me to see how much more I had learned over the year’s course to be more beneficial for my team. My best memory of the HSCC experience is the night of the Awards Ceremony at the 2007 Conference. Our team had made a steady improvement in the ranks, year after year. We came from second-to-last to around the halfway mark in the 2006 competition. In 2007, a new policy was opened. Instead of scholarship going to the top three high scoring chapters, they would be awarded to the top five. That year we came in 6th place, just 30 points short of scholarships for the whole team. Even though we did not win, that night became my proudest moment of my entire HSCC experience. It showed that with dedicated teamwork, we can achieve anything; steady improvement being the most important.

My class encouraged me to speak up and voice my opinions the year before, so whenever I had a question or a suggestion they were sure to hear it. I have learned from them that teamwork is extremely important in a project because different minds catch on to different aspects at different rates. It is a lot better to have a teammate think ahead to a potential issue in the planning stage than for one person to concentrate on one-step at a time and eventually crash. Our instructors also taught me to overcome my shyness in interviews and to try to be more outgoing. Network! Opportunities do not just come to you with a beginner’s status. They taught me that companies are looking for leaders and you have to be able to go out there and present yourself. Thanks to HSCC, I am now more sociable and outgoing than I ever thought I would be. I have been practicing my networking skills with the faculty around the school as a senior this year, and I can honestly testify to you that opportunities definitely comes to those who seek! Thank you HSCC!

Editor's Note: BETF-Blog Readers, would you like to increase the number of teams earning scholarships in 2008 to six. Monique talks about what it felt like to be the #6 team when only five teams won scholarships.

We can get a sixth team if we can get $2,500 ($500 per team member) funding commitment from individuals or corporations. Reply to this message with you pledge. Anything from $25 to $250 to $2,500 would be great. Will you step up to this 6th Place Scholarship challenge laid out in honor of Monique Jones?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm hopeful that some of you will take our challenge to raise $2,500 before the end of the calendar year so we can give five more scholarships to the 6th place HSCC team in the 2008 conference. What say u?

Also, are there any Charlotte-area readers?