Sunday, January 23, 2011

HSCC Testimonial: Khalif Oliver (Richmond, 1995-1998)

We celebrate the 15th anniversary of the 1996 National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Championship this year. BDPA Detroit chapter took home the gold medal that year. However, there was a scrappy team from Richmond, Virginia in the national HSCC championships that year. The members of that team were Sunday Jones, Anton Luddington, Khalif Oliver, Deneen Webster and Joi Younger. The BDPA Richmond HSCC team finished in 5th place ... the highest finish in the history of the chapter.

We asked Khalif to share his reflections on BDPA and his HSCC training. Here is what he had to say:

BDPA was great for me; it was one of the best things I have been involved in. I started back when we used B.A.S.I.C and Q BASIC, and was able to translate this experience to Visual BASIC and using MS Access (circa 1998). Though I got my degree in Engineering in 2004 [from Virginia Tech], the IT skills I learned in BDPA have gotten me very far. At my previous job, I recall one day my manager called me into his office and the first words out of his mouth were, "You know Access, right?" At one of my internships in college, I built a database and used VB to make a new application to house the ENTIRE computer inventory of one of the top 2 aluminum producing companies in the world, thus saving them $100,000/month. This would not have been possible without my 4 years in the HSCC.

Finishing in the top five in the High School Computer Competition was great, and also winning the national t-shirt design competition was amazing. But the biggest thing I took away from the program was the networking. Among others, I was fortunate enough to meet and get to know Earl Pace when he came to speak to BDPA Richmond and I was honored to be able to introduce him. I have always kept in contact with the people I met through BDPA, though I went into engineering and most of them kept with IT.

From 2004-2008, I was an Engineer (by title) for the U.S. Postal Service in the DC Metro Area. But a lot of my role was developing and supporting data analysis programs and IT tools for the whole company to use. An engineer with an IT background and good interpersonal skills is a dangerous commodity in working world. I have already mentioned the computer skills I have gained, and the only thing that rivals the BDPA Conference in terms of networking is my fraternity and attending the Omega Psi Phi National Conclaves.

Following my 4 years at U.S.P.S., I earned my M.B.A. [from UNC Kenan-Flagler] and I am now a consultant for The North Highland Company in Charlotte, NC. The majority of my time is spent analyzing and managing business processes, and integrating with IT technologies and capabilities. Once again my training from BDPA plays a major role in me understanding how business requirements translate into the technical aspects of banking, retail, etc. Without that foundation, the learning curve would be much steeper for me in my roles.

Specifically in BDPA I recall the 1996 HSCC championship held in Atlanta. It was my first time ever in Atlanta, and I remember the whole way down we all were excited about going to the Underground and doing some shopping! We soon realized that the conference and competition had so much more to offer than a shopping experience. I learned a ton and it was great to meet a lot of other sharp and successful Black IT experts. In summary, networking and competing with BDPA has given me a great foundation on which to stand and build myself professionally and personal. Thanks BDPA!

Wouldn't it be cool if some corporate sponsor were to host a luncheon at the 2011 National BDPA Conference for any of the HSCC alumni from 1986 (25 years ago), 1991 (20 years ago), 1996 (15 years ago), 2001 (10 years ago) or 2006 (5 years ago) who were able to make it to Chicago in August? 

Khalif was in the HSCC Alumni Class of 1996 -- It would also be nice if we could locate the other members of the 1996 HSCC team from Richmond. Does anyone know where we can find Sunday Jones, Anton Luddington, Deneen Webster or Joi Younger?

In any case, it is a true pleasure to hear from Khalif Oliver. His story is one of the reasons that the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) directors work so hard to raise money for BDPA's youth education programs.

What were your thoughts upon reading Khalif's reflections about BDPA?


Annette Yates, BDPA-Richmond said...

It is great to see that Khalif is still excelling. He is the only BDPA-Richmond student who started the program as an 8th grader and continued through high school graduation. As a result, he receive the highest chapter scholarship in BDPA-Richmond's 20 Year History in the amount of $2,000. He also assisted the chapter as a role model to students in several positions after high school and college graduation.

Wayne Hicks said...

Annette - Thank you for sharing this information about Khalif. I had pleasure of breaking bread with Khalif when he was in Cincinnati earlier this year. He is a remarkable young man. We plan to have him on BDPA iRadio Show soon.

Thanx also for taking time to make a comment on this blog. So few people post comments that I sometimes wonder if anyone reads this stuff!