Friday, January 21, 2011

Bemley Scholar Alan Rosales Heads to University of Rochester

Alan Rosales
Alan Rosales is a young man that I have enjoyed watching over the past few years in the national BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) championships. He has been a true warrior for his chapter ... and he earned a Jesse Bemley Scholarship as a result of the performance by him (and his teammates) during the 2009 national HSCC championships.

Alan used his scholarship to help defray some of the costs to attend the University of Rochester.

He took some time to share his thoughts on his experience with BDPA over the past few years.

Ever since I began my high education at Medgar Evers College Preparatory School, I knew I was interested in computers and technology. While in 9th grade, I took an introductory course in computer science. Towards the end of the first semester my teacher, Mr. Destine, told me about BDPA and a specific competition, HSCC, for high schools students who showed an interest in programming. I was definitely interested, and once I was given a full understanding of the program, I began training. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be a part of the 2007 HSCC team and complete at nationals.
But that didn't stop me from continuing to practice my programming skills. The following year, I made the 2008 HSCC team and completed at nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. I also made the team for 2009 and 2010. I remember my first HSCC experience at Atlanta, Georgia like it was yesterday. Being that it was my first competition ever, I was a little bit terrified. As lead programmer for the team, I felt that it was my responsibility to stay focus and lead the team to victory, increasing the amount of pressure on me.
During the first portion of the competition, we had to answer five multiple choice questions as a team. I remember that by working together, we were able to get all five questions correct. Since that seemed like a breeze, I began to lose some fright. The next portion of the competition was to answer as many multiple choice questions that we could individually in 15 minutes. That was a little more intense, but after practicing quiz factory, I was able to score a legitimate amount of points in order to decrease the team's ranking.
The last portion of the competition was the most challenging and most anticipated. During the last portion, each team was given roughly 7 hours to create a dynamic database-driven application. This was very intense because all we had to work with was each other's coding techniques. After 7 hours of non-stop coding it was time for us to leave the coding room. It was very intense sitting in that room due to the tension from each team's ambition to place first and from the complexity of the problem.

2008 HSCC Team from New York
Once we left the room, we felt as if a weight was lifted off our shoulders; as if now, we could start breathing properly again. But the competition wasn't just yet; we still had to prepare our presentation in order to "sell" our application to the judges. Luckily, that year we were almost last, therefore we had enough time to practice our presentation. When we went back to the coding room, we did everything we could to convince the judges that our application was the best. Of course they asked questions that left us unsure of what to say, and they were able to find errors in our coding, but that is all part of the learning process. That year, the New York Chapter HSCC team came in 6th place. That was considered a major achievement for us because being that 2008 was the first time most of competed, we were still able to come in 6th place.

For the following years we practiced even more and tried to stay on top of our game. In 2009 at Raleigh, NC we came in 5th place and in 2010 at Philadelphia, PA we came in 6th place.

2010 HSCC Team from New York
Unfortunately last year was the last time I would be able to participate in HSCC. It was definitely a great experience and I am thankful that BDPA was able to come to my high school out of all the high schools in NYC. HSCC has taught me to think quickly on my feet, and has exposed me to new programming languages such as PHP, HTML, JavaScript, and MySQL. Just the opportunity of attending a national conference has taught me that even people of color can become successful by being able to listen to people's success stories.
Because of BDPA I have been able to get many opportunities that would eventually follow me through college. For instance BDPA has given me a sense of accomplishment because how many students can actually say that they have been able to code like real programmers, that they have been able to listen to success stories, that they have been able to intern with several corporations, not many that is for sure.
I am now currently a freshman at the University of Rochester with plans to major in Biomedical Engineering while on the Pre-Med track and to possibly minor in Physics. While I was applying to the University of Rochester I mentioned on my application all of my experiences with BDPA and the opportunity that I was given to compete at the national level in a programming competition. The university was very impressed with what I had done in just a couple of years in high school. I will never forget what my acceptance letter said from the University of Rochester. My acceptance letter had mentioned that after reviewing my application and learning about my experiences with BDPA, they knew I was a perfect candidate for the class of 2014. Because of this I am truly grateful for BDPA, not only for all the opportunities it has given me, but because it serves as a form of achievement for me.

BDPA New York chapter is raising funds so that the members of their 2011 national HSCC team can each win scholarships as well. I hope that you will read the impact that BDPA had on Alan and make a decision to support the BDPA New York HSCC Scholarship Fund project.

I also hope that you will reply to this post with some 'BDPA-love' for Alan. This young man is truly demonstrating what it means when BDPA says that we advance the careers of people in the IT industry from the classroom to the boardroom!

No comments: