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Alumni BDPA Chapter Year(s)
Nick Akogyeram Southern Minnesota 2005
Ramala Andemariam Cincinnati 2003 - 2005
Jessica Merie Anderson Twin Cities 2005
Evan Angcos Los Angeles 2007 - 2009
James Arama Southern Minnesota 2009 - 2010
Syed Azfar Boston 2004
Julia Berg Boston 2004
Khadijah Celestine New York 2007
Alton Felts Southern Minnesota 2001 - 2002
Frantz Jean Philippe New York 2008
Darius Gaines Detroit 2006
Derek Griffin Chatanooga 2005 - 2007
Jasmine Hagler New York 2003
Keon Hercules New York 2003
Kenya Herring Washington, DC 2007 - 2009
Clyde Hill Los Angeles 2003 - 2005
Kelly Hill Los Angeles 2001 - 2003
Evan Hilliard Charlotte 2000 - 2001
Joseph Huggins Chicago 2006 - 2009
Odaro Ighodaro New York 2003
Reginald Jamerson Charlotte 2002
Elise Jefferson Southern Minnesota 2006
Chris Johnson Dallas 1992-1993
Jonathan Johnson Dallas 2001
Karole Johnson Richmond 2005 - 2006
Monique Jones Charlotte 2006 - 2007
Emery Jordan Northwest Indiana 1993 - 1996
Mackale Joyner Kansas City 1996
Yaa Kwansa Southern Minnesota 2009
Stephanie Lampkin Washington, DC 2000
Khadijah Lovejoy Hartford 2005
Brandee Lyles Columbus 2010
Tarik Massac Washington, DC 2006 - 2008
Lisa Minott Hartford 1996 - 1997
Hassan Moustafa Washington, DC 2008
Jasmine Oliver New York 2003
Khalif Oliver Richmond  
Kevin Pace Twin Cities 2005 - 2006
Lauren Pemberton Southern Minnesota 2005 - 2008
Bogdan Pomerlyan Charlotte 2001
Angie Porter Southern Minnesota 2002 - 2005
Quin Raye Dallas 1998 - 2001
Kunle Roberts Southern Minnesota 2006 - 2008
Andreaus Robinson Chicago 2006 - 2007
Joshua Roy Los Angeles 2004
Marcellus A. Sims Philadelphia 2006 - 2007
Marvin Street Detroit 2001
Veronica Taylor Detroit 1999 - 2000
Pengtao 'Mac' Teng Greater Tampa Bay 2002-2003, 2005, 2007
Janeen Thomas Washington, DC 2003
Jessica Tipton Atlanta 2002 & 2004
Caroline Tremain Southern Minnesota 2006
Okwudili Udeh Hartford 2005 - 2008
Trevor Williams Charlotte 2005
Wes Williams Memphis 2003
Kathryn Wiseman Southern Minnesota 2004 - 2005

Nick Akogyeram

My first experience with Computer Science and Information Technology came in my sophomore year of high school. I was part of the Southern Minnesota BDPA chapter from 2004 to 2006. My parents wanted my brother and me to join this extracurricular activity after Mr. Francis Aning, a family friend and the president of the Southern Minnesota Chapter at the time, mentioned it to them. We were not particularly excited about giving up our Saturday mornings to do more work in addition to our school work. I just remember my parents telling me (often times repeatedly) how much of a good opportunity this class could be for us. They always taught us to be open-minded and to try new things. So I decided that I was going to give computer programming a change.

After attending the first class, my brother and I met some teenagers from other area schools that we knew and some that we didn't know so well. There were so many people that were thrilled, energized, excited, and any other synonym that one could think of, about BDPA and computer programming that it was hard not to be so as well. There were a lot of volunteers that helped to set up, teach, and provide rides for us students. The parents of students also got involved by providing food for our break time. I began to genuinely enjoy the class and made many friends that I may not have met under normal circumstances. Our chapter became very close, similar to a large family.

The computer programming class was not just about fun and games. We were taught computer languages that professionals and computer science majors learn in college. It was difficult material, but the teachers made it fun and easy to learn. The classes and months went by quickly, almost without my noticing. Then in June, the Southern Minnesota chapter held a test to decide which students would be on the High School Computer Competition team that would compete at the competition. I wasn't nervous about taking the exam because the class had become a pleasant experience for me, so I just took the exam without any worries. And to my surprise, I was selected to be one of the five students to represent our chapter at the 2005 National Conference held in Detroit. I became excited and nervous at the same time. Three of the students on the team had already had experience at the High School Computer Competition (two second place finishes in 2003 and 2004) and were eager to improve on the prior successful finishes. There was pressure to perform well.

In the summer of 2005 we went through "boot camp” as we affectionately called it. We spent countless hours of our summer vacation practicing various skills such as computer programming, problem solving, professionalism and proper presentation etiquette. Some meetings were extensive and seemed to never come to end, but our camaraderie helped to getus through the lengthy sessions.

We were so well prepared and eager to show our newly acquired skills at the High School Computer Competition. When we arrived at Detroit, it was unbelievable to see so many people of African American descent, but more importantly that were inspired and working hard to do well. I was used to being one of few who strived for excellence; often teased and feeling the need to hide my talents to fit in with the social norm. Seeing that many young African Americans that held academics as a high priority and could still have a good time was something that I had not experienced in my life. It was refreshing and I suddenly felt I wanted to show the world everything that I had learned in the past year. Our team spent the final nights before the competition practicing everything that we had learned and honing our skills.

The competition consisted of three parts, a written test, a web-site assignment, and a presentation to judges. We did well on the written test achieving the highest composite score of the teams competing. Then we had seven hours to build a web-site for college students to order Personal Computers, laptops, and accessories online. It was challenging problem that took us the full seven hours to complete. At the end of the presentation part and the competition, my friends and I felt content with our performance and could do nothing but leave the decision up to the judges. The banquet that evening seemed to last forever, and of course the program had the presentation of the winners of the High School Computer Competition as the very last event. Our chapter impatiently awaited the announcement of the winners. Just before they announced that we had won first place, the announcer said a quote from Angi Porter, one of my teammates. It was fitting seeing as she had been on the team for the past three years and won tenth place and second place twice. She worked extremely hard to get us over the hump and win first place. Everyone was so proud us including ourselves. We were able to enjoy the first place finish and relax that evening.

I participated in the Youth Computer Training Program the following year but I did not attend the conference in Los Angeles. My overall experience was priceless and I am so thankful for the friends and skills that I obtained from BDPA. I would not trade it for anything, and I will testify to everyone that they should try new things because one will never know what one is capable of. I am now attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

I would encourage anyone to join BDPA to get same experience I had. Finally I would like to say thank you to Mr. Aning and my parents for getting me involved in BDPA, my brother, Mr. Doug Porter, Angi Porter, Kathryn Wiseman, Matthew Mayweathers, and Lauren Pemberton (my teammates and friends), the rest of the YCTP students and all of the teachers and volunteers for their support. Our achievement is an example that God rewards those who work hard to accomplish their goals.

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Ramala Andemariam

I remember when I first started BDPA. I was in 10th grade and I got some information from my web design teacher about BDPA. I've been interested in making websites for a while and I was also learning it on my own so this was a great opportunity for me to find out what this organization offered. I talked to my father about it and went to the testing with him. There I saw many others that have come to do the same. After being accepted into the first phase, I was excited to learn what they offered. Ultimately, I ended up going all the way through to being on the competition team. It was the most exciting thing I've done at that time. I love to compete and BDPA gave me the perfect setting to do just that.

Throughout my BDPA journey, there were a lot of opportunities for me to learn and experience new things. The Saturday sessions we had were the most educational for me, especially during the first year. I always looked forward to every Saturday with BDPA. Being able to learn new things, work with other people that had the same interest, and meet new people were among the many things I experienced with BDPA. Going to different cities and competing was also one of the highlights of the program. I loved those Fridays that we spent locked in the competition room coming up with ways to solve our competition problem with limited time. I loved the time we spent playing pranks on one another that Saturday night before our departure. There were many experiences that helped me grow as a person while in BDPA.

My initial interest in technology was what guided me to join BDPA. Once in BDPA, I learned a lot of things that helped me succeed in college. Being an IT major, there was a lot of knowledge that transfered directly to my daily school work from those BDPA classes. It is by far the best educational and fun experience I've had to date. I recommend it to everyone that has the chance to join. BDPA is the best family you can have outside of your current one. I regret not knowing about BDPA earlier but it will always have a special place in my life. Thank you for those that took their time out to educate me and influence me in a great way. Thank you BDPA!

Ramala Andemariam
BDPA Cincinnati Chapter
University of Cincinnati (Class of 2010)

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My name is Jessica Merie Anderson and I am an incoming senior at the University of Alabama majoring in Management Information Systems with a minor in computer software systems. BDPA has been a part of my life since grade school and given me skills that have contributed to my success and landed me great opportunities!

At first, I could never understand why binary numbers, databases, ASP, PHP, and HTML were so important, let alone why I enjoyed going every Saturday to learn something so foreign to me. Although at times I found myself frustrated, I got up every Saturday morning because I enjoy the challenge, my peers, my instructors and the opportunity to learn something new. The best feeling to me is when a program that I constructed from scratch has no errors and runs! That is when I knew I connected information technology. BDPA has also helped to establish great relationships with potential employers, teammates, and other individuals interested in IT from around the country. I have met some of my closet friends to date through BDPA.

Learning how to program at BDPA has helped me in courses such as C++ and Java in college. I find myself less frustrated and more successful than my classmates because of my previous training. The programming skills and knowledge of technology that I learned in Bdpa and in college have made me a more marketable candidate and set me apart from all other applicants when applying for jobs and internships! Programming is a skill that not many people learn how to do thoroughly, and yet so many people use various programs on a day-to-day basis for numerous tasks. I wanted to be part of the world that constructed programs and utilized technology to help make things better, faster, and cheaper.

Growing up, I wanted to attend medical school because at the time I felt that was the only way I could help people. Helping people is what I live for. As time progressed, I had change of heart as to what field of study I wanted to enter into. I realized that there are other ways to help people and making lives better, and that I did not have to go to medical school to do it.

My plans include graduating in 2010 with my bachelors, and applying to Accenture, Procter and Gamble, and Ernest and Young.

Thank You BDPA!

The 2009 BDPA Technology Conference was a memorable and worthwhile event. This year's conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Raleigh Convention Center. Twenty-three (23) teams represented chapters from across the nation; each with the goal of ending the Southern Minnesota winning streak.

Our chapter, the well-known Los Angeles team consisted of five people. Each team-member was required to be an expert in different parts of the application development life cycle. The application usually has standard requirements over the years so assigning tasks and priorities was not too difficult. This year we had a new edition to the team, Mani Lewis. The four other team members were Terrell Allen, Angela Bell, Tyrone Hinderson, and myself (Evan Angcos), the team-captain.

After a long flight, we *endured* the Opening Ceremony with the keynote speaker Lamman Rucker. The next day was the first day of the competition and we were ready for our first event (Round Robin). This year, many of the questions were different, but we succeeded in answering three out of the five questions correctly, the other two we were incapable of answering without proper preparation. After the Round Robin was Quiz Factory. It was a shame to find out that the only questions that were the same in Quiz Factory were the BDPA history. As for the other questions, they were all different from what we studied.

Overall, our scores were good and we actually scored the highest (even higher than Southern Minnesota) in the quiz event!

The next day was the final round; building the application. We went through the application with a breeze, because we did several mock-ups before going to the competition. Unfortunately, during the last minute of the programming event, the wrong code was deleted which left one of our pages dysfunctional. We were discouraged as we walked from the room, and into the holding area waiting to give our presentation. Our presentation was a full 15 minutes long but after leaving we felt we made a good impression on the judges.

The last and final day was filled with excitement. We made our way to the Raleigh Convention Center for the Awards Gala. We wanted to hear our name called for the top 5. We wanted to end Southern Minnesota's winning streak. Sadly, we did not and we didn't place in the top 5. We deserved it, but we were just unlucky this time. We were prepared, and properly trained by our coordinators … after the Awards Gala we got our results. Surprisingly, we placed 7th place! We were grateful that we placed at such a high rank and the highest in the Los Angeles' Chapter history. Some of us are determined to come back and take top 5, and it won't be long.

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James Arama, Southern Minnesota (2009 - 2010)


In December of 2008 I joined Black Data Processing Association (BDPA), an organization that seeks to help minorities succeed in technology careers. The local BDPA chapter ran a Youth Computer Training Program (YCTP) that teaches students web programming techniques. I heard about the program from my friends who had posted pictures and updates on Facebook after they had won the National High School Computer Competition the year before. I signed up for the class with a goal of earning a spot on the competition team and competing at the National Competition. Whenever my teachers gave assignments and extra credit, I would search through online tutorials to ensure my project exceeded all the requirements. By the end of the year, my class rank was high enough to earn a spot on the competition team, a rarity for a first year student.

As a team, we got together during the summer to prepare for the competition via "boot camp," practicing our programming skills for up to thirty hours per week. At the end of the summer we traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to compete against twenty-two other teams from much larger cities such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The competition spanned two days, culminating with a seven hour programming project, which required us to create a full database-driven web application from scratch with no outside help. This year's project, which the teams had no advance knowledge of, required the students to write a web-based application allowing potential investors to fill out a form to invest in a venture company and immediately determine potential return of investment, using programming languages such as Java, Javascript, ASP, PHP, .NET in conjunction with MySQL, HTML and CSS.

We used our time wisely. Each member of our team had his/her own portion of the project to work on. I was the Technical Architect as well as a web designer. We began by addressing the requirements. Upon completion of each requirement, we utilized a double blind testing method wherein two independent evaluators tested the application. Errors identified by the evaluators were categorized as either consequential or inconsequential. Consequential errors that deemed to affect the functionality of the requirements were addressed immediately whereas inconsequential errors that deemed not to affect the functionality of the requirements were addressed as time permitted. Due to our methodical approach, we finished our project in four hours, leaving three more hours for more testing and enhancements. Our team ended up taking first place, beating the second place team by a large ten percent margin. At that point I was so stunned that I did not know how to digest what had just happened, but I was glad to be able to call myself a National Champion.

To some extent I have believed that my life has always been full of luck. How else could I have come from one of the poorest villages in Africa, lived in the most unsanitary slums, won an immigration lottery and received national recognition for my computer programming and artistic skills? But as I mature, I realize these blessings are not due to luck at all. My family has supported each other through hard work to turn our fortunes around. They have supported and encouraged me to fulfill my potential. Without this support, I could not have achieved these goals and become the person that I am.

Syed Azfar: Boston (2004)

Before I joined BDPA in 2004, I did not know anything about developing websites. All I did on the computer was play games and instant message with friends. It all changed when I joined the BDPA Boston Metrowest chapter. Every Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, we met in Cambridge, MA and started going over HTML. It did not take me long to develop an interest in creating websites. As soon as the first session was over, I went home and started writing codes from the HTML book that I received from the program. The examples given in the book allowed me to understand the basics, which helped me to merge it into a website. During the next few months, we learned how to create databases and connect website to it in order to view and save information.

After months of training, it was time to put it to the test. We flew down to Dallas, Texas for three days to participate in the high school computer competition. The competition took place in two parts.

The first part was the oral, where we answered questions on the history of the information technology (IT) industry and the organization.

The second part involved developing a website for a video company. The website would need to access a database of movies and based on the query would need to provide the results. We only had 8 hours to complete this task. Looking around the massive room, it was evident that the next couple of hours would test our knowledge and our focus. After we were done with the competition, we were encouraged to attend the seminars given by IT professionals on different topics ranging from the new structures of developing websites to emerging technologies to the future growth of the IT field.

Attending that BDPA conference was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had and to this day I am still part of BDPA and I encourage young students to join this great organization. I am very fortunate to have learned about this organization and to be part of it.

"You have eight hours to create an online DVD rental store. You will be judged on teamwork, solution elegance, unique Graphic User Interface (GUI), and the completeness of the application. You may use your choice of Sun Microsystems Java Technology, Microsoft ASP, Open Source Software PHP, or Microsoft.NET, as your database technology. READY..SET..GO!"

The doors were closed and locked shut. Suddenly there I was...a tiny Latina from Boston in a large, strange, hotel ballroom in Dallas, Texas. The room was packed with adolescents, separated by state into small groups and assigned to computer stations. Even after six months of Information Technology (IT) training, I knew my knowledge from school courses and my creativity were about to be pushed to the limits.

I remember looking around the table and the adrenaline rush that streamed through my body. Never had I been so proud of my peers and myself. There we were - the first team from Boston in over ten years. Yet we were not only representing Massachusetts, but also our own native countries, Chile and Pakistan. As the three finalists, we battled our way through programming boot camp and won our regional competition to gain a spot for the national contest. The long Saturday classes, the trip across the nation, the individual quiz bowl, and now the eight-hour programming contest! This was actually fun for me- what once was overwhelming was now a natural routine. Fingers typing, ideas flowing, this was what I was meant to do.

The first time I learned of Black Data Processors Association (BDPA) I was a freshman and was thrilled to have IT training with other motivated teenagers. Yet I never expected my mentors and teammates to become like family. I had attended class expecting to be an outcast, the same frustrating sensation I often met in the computer classroom. Despite living in a diverse community, I constantly found myself the sole racial minority and the only girl. Here at the competition I was not the only one who had felt lonely in her endeavors. We had all come out on top, the underdog role only motivating us to work harder.

At the national conference I had the honor of meeting Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to venture into space, and a role model for women in technology worldwide. Her words have stayed with me ever since. She said, "I had to learn very early not to limit myself due to others' limited imagination." That is what BDPA helped me to realize: where you are from and the culture you are raised in has a lasting impact in establishing your identity, but should not limit your success. Dr.Jemison taught me that you could both keep your ethnic pride, as well as make your mark in this world. BDPA was about more than striving for equality in the IT field, but aiming for the top.

And... Time! Suddenly it was all over. The eight hours of grueling mental stimulation had knocked me out like no other experience. Depleted, I removed my sore fingers and wrists from the keyboard and fell back in my chair. The scene itself was spectacular; hundreds of minority adolescents brought together for a common goal- to show the world that we were the future IT leaders.

I left that Texas ballroom with the confidence to succeed. For the last four years I have dedicated myself to fulfilling my own dreams. I started a web design company and have worked with major organizations such as the Museum of Science and Intel Computer Clubhouse, a global organization that gives minority children the opportunity to learn computer technology. I hope to guide them like BDPA guided me, by following the trails blazed by influential pioneers like Mae Jemison. Why not go for it?

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Khadijah Celestine, New York (2007)

I am currently a student at New York City College of Technology (CUNY�s City Tech), pursuing my passion, computers and technology. This fall I will be a sophomore and by the time I graduate in June 2013, will have obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and an Associate of Science degree in Computer Science.

My studies include designing web sites using HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Javascript and Actionscript. In a continuous effort to better myself, I am also pursuing a professional certificate in Web Design and improving secondary interests in graphic design and video game design. I am an active member in City Tech�s Computer Science Club.

During high school, I was introduced to Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA). What started out as a high school extracurricular activity has become a very important part of my life.

My first year with BDPA, I represented the New York Chapter and took part in the National High School Computer Competition (HSCC) in Washington, D.C. I interacted with other students from around the country and was impressed and in awe of their interests in computer programming and development. With the help of my computer science teacher, Mr. Destine; BDPA-NY Education Director, Ms. Denise Hamilton and BDPA-NY President Mrs. Judaea Lane, I received an opportunity to learn how to compete and increase my technical knowledge of computers to another level. Also I received the opportunity to network with other African Americans who are taking a more active role in this.

In addition to my computer and technology pursuits, I gain significant satisfaction from tutoring and improving others lives. On Saturdays, I tutor adults in reading at the Flatbush Avenue Public Library. This opportunity opened up a whole new for me as I ignorantly believed that every adult could read. Being able to help someone do something as simple as read makes me understand what I can contribute to others. Furthermore, my life plans changed for the better when I had the honor of tutoring a woman who had grown up in foster care. When I found that children in foster care are in need of something more than the ability to read, I couldn�t pass up the chance to get involved. I am currently working on my certification as a Mentor.

My passion for dance rounds out my academic and volunteer efforts. I started to dance as a sophomore in high school and was quickly elevated from a �back line� dancer to a �front line� dancer. This was no easy task, since I had no prior training and was very shy. Nevertheless, my passion for dance as an art, permeated through each and every pore, every time music touches my soul. There isn�t a piece of music that passes by without an accompanied movement from me.

Alton Felts[Southern Minnesota: 2001-2002]

I started training with BDPA Southern Minnesota Chapter in my 8th grade year. We met every Saturday for 4 hours. At first it was something my dad got me involved in to keep me busy, but that experience became so much more. I learned about topics in IT that some do not learn until college. My chapter also gave us the opportunities to tour the IT departments at the Mayo Clinic and speak with the IT professionals.

My participation in the HSCC was a great experience and really tested my team's abilities. I can remember our team studying the night before making sure we had the basics down for the competition. We also got a chance to be tourist in Orlando and got to see many attractions while we were there.

BDPA has definitely had a huge impact on my life. Before I joined BDPA, I had no concrete idea on what I wanted to do with my life. After being involved, I realized I wanted my career to be in IT. I am currently majoring in Computer Information Systems at Georgia State University and doing my second internship with Lockheed Martin as an Information Systems Analyst. I can really say the experiences I have had with BDPA has helped me achieve what I have so far.

Frantz Jean Philippe, New York Chapter, 2008

It has been an amazing experience being part of the BDPA HSCC team. When I first started pursuing a spot in being part of the HSCC team, I never realized how much BDPA would have changed my life. I had great experiences from the trip to the Museum of Modern Arts to the 2008 BDPA National Conference held in Atlanta GA. BDPA accomplished its mission in exposing students like me to Information Technology. Through the many trips that we took part in, I have developed a deep interest in Information Technology and have decided to pursue it in college.

Training for the competition has been both hard and fun. At first, it was intense seeing how we were still learning and there was a lot of competitiveness between us. However, as the competition nears, we each realized that we were strong in one major area of programming. We were closer than any other teams. Unlike most of the other teams, we were from the same school. Additionally, our trainer was also our teacher as well as our friend. It is best to train and learn when you know the people whom you train with well. We appreciate our trainer because we would have never come this far if it was not for him. He sacrificed many of his time in order to prepare us for the competition. For example, he sacrificed his birthday just to be with us during our second regional competition in Maryland. The regional competitions had a big influence on our performance in the national competition. It was a great way to get us accustomed to the way of the competition and at the same time, we had a lot of fun.

The conference itself was the best experience that I have ever had in my entire life. I liked the fact that we were able to experience the cultural wonders of Atlanta in many ways. In addition, we not only applied all that we have learned during the year, we learned new things as well. During the first day of the Youth Technology Camp, I learned effective communication, something that will surely help me later on in life. BDPA has exceeded its original mission and made sure that students like me do not just have a good future in information technology, but have good skills in whichever path they follow in life. One of the greatest events that I enjoyed during the conference was the opening ceremony. The keynote speaker, Ephren Taylor, inspired us all. His success story inspired us to pursue whatever we want in life. From the master of ceremony, Mario Armstrong we learned not to let "dream killers” gets in our way. This became a motif as we learned throughout the entire conference. One of the greatest moments in the opening ceremony came when Mr. Armstrong gave an HSCC student the opportunity to pursue his dream of Game Designing by providing the student with software that were perhaps valued at one thousand dollars. I was amazed to see how great people like him make sure that people like us succeed in accomplishing their dreams.

The High School Computer Competition was one of the best parts of the conference. It was intense and enjoyable at the same time. On the first day of the competition, we were calmer than we were in the regional competitions and we did excellent. This made us even more confident on the second day where the real competition began in building our web application. We responded rather calmly to the long time of seven hours to eight hours that we had to build the application seeing that we were used to programming for this amount of time during our training. We did very well and we finished all of the functionalities given to us. We were very proud of ourselves seeing that we worked as a team to finish the application. We each did our individual jobs perfectly and our application was very strong.

After a hard week, we were all looking forward to going home. However, our flight cancelled due to overwhelming circumstances. We had the chance to stay in Atlanta an extra night. Even though we were all anxious to go home, we were rather calm in handling the situation. We were lucky enough that the BDPA National president, Ms. Denise Holland provided us her presidential suite for us to spend the night in. We took this with great appreciation for Ms. Holland and BDPA for taking good care of its members. We had an amazing night in the presidential suite. The most surprising moment of the entire trip later became one of the greatest moment of the trip.

I built websites for my school and became a Graphic User Interface Programmer for the Black Data Processing Associates' High School Computer Competition Detroit chapter, discovering the vast creative perspectives in the field of IT technology on a nationwide competitive level. My connections with the BDPA even got me a job with a local small business as a program developer in turn, setting me off to do web development as my own employer to various clients -most of which express high customer satisfaction of the work I do. The people I got to meet were very helpful, and became a hardwired network of opportunity.

Now I'm a freshman student at Lawrence Technological University, majoring in graphic design and imaging. Over the entirety of my academic career, I'd have to say my love for arts and technology has been the most consistent - even over sports, and politics - I can honestly say I believe what I have planned for myself will make a difference. As a student in graphic design, I can obtain the skills to influence thinking through art and concept.

Derek Griffin: BDPA Chattanooga Chapter (2005 - 2007)

[EDITOR'S NOTE – Derek is a 3-time participant in the national BDPA high school computer competition (HSCC). He earned a Bemley Scholarship at the 2007 national competition. Ironically, his coach in 2007 was Wes Williams (2001 national HSCC champion)].

When I began training for the 2007 Chattanooga HSCC team, I knew what to expect. I had done this twice before, 2005 in Detroit and 2006 in Los Angeles, and I was excited to be going to Washington D.C. We had a new coach and we knew with a little work we could go all the way. What we did not know was that little work, turned out to be a lot of work.

We worked every Saturday morning. We determined that wasn't enough, and it was not, and started to have practices what I believe was every night in the library. This was a lot after everything else I had to do, but I did not mind the work. However, the competition was fast approaching and I just knew it was almost over.

Our preparation for the journey to Washington D. C. was almost over. The night before we met at Coach Wes' house, our coordinator, seeing we had to leave at 4:00am–Yes am. We worked all that night and I believe I got 10 minutes of sleep. We woke up at 4:00 am. We went to pick up our third teammate and the trip commenced. It was a hard 9-hour trip to D.C. I again could barely sleep, we got a ticket, and I finally fell asleep and heard some of the harshest words I have ever heard, "Derek you ready to study some.”

Upon arrival, we went out to socialize and "let everyone know we had arrived.” We get a little down time including watching the then newly released, 300. I started to doze, comfortable at last, and then the worst words I really ever heard, those that torment me to this very day, nearly two years later, "Derek let's go over the code some more.”

I was ready to get this all over with, and we went in for the test, we got all but one of the oral questions, and we did very well on the written, and it became obvious all of our studying had paid dividends. However, the portion we had really trained for was the 8-hour beast, the room of doom, the only computer lab that causes nightmares, the web design competition. I was determined; I had not deprived myself of sleep for nothing. We were prepared and we performed magnificently. The only thing that surprised us was the ruthlessness of the other teams. Some teams resorted to lying to throw us off. We believed at first but it did not affect us, we gave a killer presentation and were relieved to see the end.

We went out on the town and prepared for the big night. After we were ready, we find our tables and we sit being the most confident team there. We knew we at least had second. We would have been ok with third. When announced as fifth place winners, we were so sure she had made a mistake; we did not even get up. She had not made a mistake; we were the fifth place winners. Not first but winners nonetheless, so we walked up there, some of us hobbled, we received our award, and we proudly took our seats. I know without a doubt we did our best, and though we may have deserved more, how can I argue with five-hundred dollar scholarship?

I am Jasmine A. Hagler and a member of the BDPA-NY chapter. As a member and representative for the High School Computer Competition (HSCC) that was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this past August. I found it very informative and enjoyable.

The five-day competition consisted of many different sections. After extensive training from April through August, we were told to create a web application program for a problem in about 5 hours, as the main part of the competition. The other days we had written and oral questions about many topics involving computer technology and BDPA historic background. We were privileged to have the opportunity to learn VBScript, HTML, Microsoft Access, and ASP, along with others.

The members responsible for the entire competition put a lot of care, love and dedication into putting the 2003 25th Annual National Conference together. I believe it paid off because many students walked away with more knowledge about BDPA, its sponsors, career opportunities, friends and just a good time. Although I went into BDPA not interested in Information Systems, I have found a new interest that has no limits in the fast changing world since receiving the chance to go to the conference.

Inasmuch as I enjoyed myself this year, I am looking forward to continuing my membership and gaining all that I can from this experience because opportunities such as this will not be available again. I am grateful for the exciting time I had and thankful for the chance to share with anyone, my experience with BDPA.

I was honored to take part in this celebration. Senior BDPA members seem to hold the High School Computer Competition (HSCC) students in high honor and view us as the best of the best. Our job was to live up to their high expectations; I think we were successful in doing so this year.

I am blessed to be a member of a great team. They were wonderful teammates, and more important, good friends. I was the Captain of the Team. We worked extremely well together, and were able to cogitate in unison when challenging times approached us during the competition. The actual competition challenge was quite demanding and arduous, but as a team we pulled together and tried our best to complete the task as stated. Some of the important values that BDPA taught me are teamwork and how to work well with other people. I can use values such as these the rest of my life.

Apart from the HSCC, the conference was one of the most fun and informative times I have experienced. I met many people in positions and professions I would like to pursue in the future. Some of the people included Network Administrators for enterprises, and entrepreneurs who started their own IT businesses. I talked with them to gather knowledge, which can help me achieve the same status in the future.

The 25th Annual Nation Conference is definitely a time to remember for the rest of my life. I hope to attend future Conferences and to have the same mental awakening that this conference has provided me. I established new friendships that I will never forget. So, I thank BDPA for providing me with this experience.

Turkenya Darlene Herring, Washington, DC (2007 - 2009)

Hello, my name is Turkenya Herring. I graduated in 2010 from Charles Herbert Flowers High School. I plan to attend Bowie State University. I am majoring in computer science with emphasis in information systems. I plan to pursue a career in networking or database management. I am proud to say that being a part of the high school computer competition has changed my outlook on society and the effects of science and technology in businesses.

My first year in BDPA was spent meeting new people and learning how to grasp a concept at a very quick pace. I was very shy and far from gregarious. One of the instructors, Mr. Shack, knew I was very smart and always called on me to answer questions and stand up in front of the class to present my project. Eventually, I crawled out of my timid shell and began to converse amongst my peers and instructors. My instructors knew that I had potential to be one of the brightest students; my first year I was selected to compete in the national competition with four of my peers. I was elated and my parents were proud of my accomplishments.

In my second year, I was more motivated and cordial. My instructors and peers looked up to me and expected me to lead the path to success, which was to win 1st place that year. Unfortunately, we won 2nd place but I told everyone to stay motivated because one day we will become HSCC champions. Being in the competition was not about competing, it was about building friendship, learning how to present, showing compassion, and many other valuable skills that will be needed in the workforce.

BDPA was the most life-changing experience I have encountered throughout my entire life. It has influenced me to become a computer scientist and give back to others on day as a scholarship. I�ve gained a close relationship with my peers, mentors, and parents over the past three years. I know that I would never have become the knowledgeable, compassionate

Right now I am a freshman at California State Fullerton. My major is Computer Science. I haven't really nailed down my career goals. I am still obtaining information towards what is available and what I want to do in my life. But to achieve any goal, I will strive to do my best in every way possible and collaborate with others that have already achieved their goals so that they can aid me in my quest. 

My experience with BDPA-LA and HSCC was a very unique one. This program presented me with an opportunity that not many others have had. BDPA-LA showed me what I can do with my life in the field of information technology. It taught me that teamwork is key in every position - a very important lesson. It prepared me for the life that was ahead of me that I did not know was there. Going to the conferences and networking with other African-Americans was an experience that I will never forget. The things I learned in classes back then are things that I am currently implementing in my college work now. Thanks to BDPA-LA, I had a jump start on my college career. This was a life-time opportunity and I could not be more thankful.

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Kelly Hill


My name is Kelly Hill and I'm from Los Angeles, California. I am currently a junior at Clark Atlanta University where I am majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. I currently work for the IRS as a Data Transcriber. After graduating from Clark Atlanta, I intend on working in corporate for no longer than five years and then pursue my dream as an entrepreneur. I want to collaborate with my brother, Clyde Hill, to start a computer company. Those are my long term goals that I will achieve.

BDPA has helped me learn how to work with others in a team based setting. They've also taught me how to problem solve because I am able to take what I've learned from the computer aspect and apply it to problem solving issues in the business world. So, BDPA has been a useful resource that I still communicate with and rely on for support and knowledge.

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Evan Hilliard: Charlotte (2000-2001)

My name is Evan J. Hilliard. I am 23 years old and currently reside in Charlotte NC. I am a Computer Operator for Novant Health (a large health care provider here in the southeast) as well as a Lab Facilitator for Central Piedmont Community College (one of the biggest community college systems in the country) I participated in the BDPA HSCC in 2000 and 2001.

When I first learned about the BDPA, I had already been into computers and technology for quite some time. The HSCC program seemed to be right up my alley to develop new skills as well as the opportunity to network amongst my fellow I.T. peers. What I thought would initially be something cool to do for a summer quickly turned into very lengthy and life changing experience.

I cannot put into word how much I grew as an IT professional, but just as a person interacting with an organization that had a family feel to it. There are so many positives about being on a HSCC team … I do not even know where to begin. You learn how build team work skills, working with a deadline, presentation skills, leadership development, networking skills, research\creative skills, technical skills…..the list is almost endless.

The only negative the ever comes to mind is the amount of students who are unaware and do not take advantage of all the wonderful things HSCC program has to offer. After the HSCC, I went on to participate in the first IT Showcase and served as a mentor/volunteer for students in my local chapter as well as the national level.

I hope that by sharing my experiences and knowledge with rest of my peers that it will motivate everyone to get involved and come together to do some great things. I thank the BDPA for all of the wonderful people and experiences I have had throughout the years and I only expect more from the premiere IT organization in the nation.

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Joseph Huggins, Jr.:  Chicago (2006-2009)

The day I first became a member of BDPA seems like ages ago, although it has only been five years since I first joined this program that has changed my life forever. My first year competing with the BDPA Chicago Chapter in the HSCC, I believe, was my best year. The year was 2006 and I remember walking to into a classroom and feeling intimidated by the amazing talent that surrounded me. Being only in 8th grade, I was one of the youngest students and was very shy. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Surprisingly, the competition seemed to fade away as if it just disappeared into thin air. Somehow, after the long months of training, I found myself among the top five students selected to compete at the national conference. The Chicago Chapter took first place that year. I can remember the feeling I had that night as we were announced the first place champions of the BDPA National High School Computer Competition. Winning the national competition was one the greatest accomplishments of my life.

After my experience with BDPA in 2006, I decided to stick around and work hard in order to compete in the HSCC for the rest of my high school career. In the following three years I made the team and the Chicago Chapter placed in the top three winning teams two years in a row. I am not able to compete in the HSCC this year in 2010 due to my obligations to U.S. Navy. I have been accepted to the United States Naval Academy where I will study computer engineering and upon graduation will be a commissioned officer in the United States Navy or Marine Corps.

I would like to give thanks to the BPDA foundation for expanding my knowledge of information technology and exposing me to the many great and amazing people I have met over the years. I would like to give special thanks to the people like Gibran McDuffie, Pamela Norfleet, Bryan Moore, Yvette Graham, and the host of other BDPA members and volunteers that have helped to shape me into the young man that I am today.

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Odaro Ighodaro

My name is Odaro Ighodaro, a student at Boys and Girls Highs School. Today, I am a senior in Boys and Girls, but tomorrow a college freshman. At the Conference, I was the "Lead Coder.” It was the moment and the hour I had been waiting for. Many people appeared terrified. However, I was calm, and did my best to make the team feel the same. When we met with difficulties times, we remained a team, and looked for and found strength. This was not my first competition; nor was it my last. During my recess time, I had fun, and still was able to demonstrate my love for computers, and knowledge. I was also able to interact with people of different cultures, and lifestyles.

Have I learned a lot, and am I thankful? Seriously yes. People can do so much for you, and in life you do not always get that. The members of BDPA helped me realize the importance of being educated, being committed, and being devoted. I especially want to thank Mrs. Lane, Mr. Dakers, Mr. Mills and Ms. Hamilton and my teammates. God bless everyone, for their patience.

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Reginald Jamerson: Charlotte (2002)

During my senior year of high school, I was informed by my guidance counselor about a BDPA computer training program for youth. I decided to give it a try to see what type of computer knowledge I could gain from the program. From day one I was impressed with the set goals and leadership provided by my BDPA Charlotte Chapter. The students were all very willing to learn and focused on improving their programming skill set. I learned about teamwork and felt as though I was apart of something bigger than myself.

The 2002 BDPA conference at Walt Disney World was wonderful! I found the Youth Technology Workshops informational and truly felt blessed with the opportunity that was presented to me; additionally I had never been to Disney Land. I'll never forget the lessons learned at the BDPA conference and how it in a way prepared me for my freshman year of college. I currently work as a Networking IT professional for Wachovia and have goals to become an entrepreneur . This was an invaluable experience!

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Elise Jefferson: Southern Minnesota (2006)

I decided to participate in the YCTP program because my older siblings had participated. I knew it would be an educational experience based on their stories, and I was interested in trying to learn a new "language". Training for the HSCC was certainly strenuous. Luckily, my teammates and I got along very well, and worked well together. We were able to play off of our strengths, which proved to be the best method for achieving the success that we did. There were some long nights, but I could tell that each of us liked what we were doing, so we were still able to enjoy ourselves in the process.

The week of the competition was extremely exciting. We were prepared, and we knew that there was no better way to truly test our skills than to compare it to other teams'. I would tell other students to sign up for BDPA as soon as they are eligible. I would advise them to work very hard and to attend the class every single Saturday. They should listen to the instructors and take their advice, because they know what they're talking about. But, most of all...have fun! Meet new people who are interested in the same things you are; it's a wonderful experience.

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Chris Johnson

Year of competition – 1992 & 1993

Education – Texas A&M University, Biomedical Engineering

I am currently the head of Information Security for D/FW International Airport. I have held several posts within BDPA (National Youth Technology Camp Coordinator, BETF Scholarship Administrator, Chapter HSCC Coordinator).

When I was a student, R. Kelly was putting out his debut album and everyone wore Cross Colours. We programmed in GW-Basic. And yet, the spirit of the competition remains as strong today as it did back then. I have seen the program evolve to stay relevant, and yet maintain Dr. Bemley's vision of a competition that provides exposure to technology and professionalism.

My most striking memory of the conference is being in the midst of so many professional, successful black people at the gala in Detroit. It was sight I had never seen before and it gave me a sense of responsibility to further the progress of our people through technology. BDPA's greatest asset is our ability to mentor our members, and the HSCC is one of our greatest mentoring tools to ensure the next generation is equipped and motivated to continue the legacy of empowering our community.

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Karole Johnson

My name is Karole Johnson and I am currently attending High Point University in High Point, NC. I was a 2006 graduate of The Steward School in Richmond, VA. I have participated in the Black Data Processing Associates High School Computer Competition Training program since I was in the seventh grade. My first conference experience was in Chicago. Even though I was only 12 years old, I remember having so much fun and meeting people who are still my friends to this day. Since then, I have traveled to Orlando, Philadelphia, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles. I participated in the Youth Conference for four years, and I learned a lot in the seminars. My favorite part of any BDPA youth conference had to be the ‘Student Outing' to one of the local businesses (behind the scenes at Disney) or colleges (University of Texas at Dallas). This was my favorite part of the conference because I got to see how life was in other parts of the country.

Starting in my junior year, 2005, I participated on the Richmond HSCC Team. I had fun participating in the oral and written competitions. The programming competition was where I grew. Not only did I grow in my programming skills, but I also grew in my time-management skills. Those eight hours are very challenging. You have to use your brain and your memory to do the problem correctly. Throughout training and competition, one skill that I learned that will bring me success in the future is paying attention to details. Coding is a skill that has to be done perfectly or you will not have the outcome you desire. One missing letter or bracket will upset your whole program.

The most important skill that I learned is time-management. Eight hours is a whole lot shorter than it sounds. Being Project-Manager in 2006 taught me that I really had to pay attention to time, what we were working on, and what needed to be done. The stress got to me a couple of times, but I learned to work through it and keep going until they said we were out of time. I also learned a lot about being on a team in a challenging situation. I learned to keep up a positive outlook no matter what might be going wrong.

Also in 2006, I received a scholarship award from Bank of America that has greatly benefited me in my college career. The most memorable thing from my years participating with HSCC is all of the friends that I have made. I have met so many unforgettable people not only from Richmond, but from across the country. I have friends in Milwaukee, Chicago, Dayton, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and even Canada that I would never have gotten the chance to meet if it were not for BDPA. All in all, BDPA has given me lasting memories, lasting friends, and lasting skills that I will continue to use throughout my life.

My most memorable experience was in LA. First of all, we placed 6th in the competition this past year. As Project Manager, I was very happy for myself and for my team. I learned more about myself and my team, and we formed a friendship that is going to last for a long time. To celebrate, our coordinator took us around LA and to Santa Monica Beach. Everybody has a dream of going to California, seeing the Hollywood sign, going down Rodeo Drive, and living like a star. My dream came true. As we rode into Beverly Hills, I was all smiles. Going down Rodeo Drive made me realize ‘I want to be able to shop here one day.' The whole LA experience was amazing.

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!

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Emery Jordan: BDPA Northwest Indiana (1993-1996)


It's really funny to think that I am writing a testimonial for an activity that I joined to get to go to a conference and hang out with people older than me. However, that is definitely the case. And while I thought that I was just going to get a free vacation, the memories, skills, and friendships that I made during my four years of competing have lasted me a life time.

My name is Emery Jordan. I was a member of the BDPA Northwest Indiana Computer Competition Team from 1993-1996. During that time, I served as a captain twice, and attended several conferences. I really got started in the computer competition because my dad was a trainer for the Chicago teams, before he started a chapter in Northwest Indiana.

For our chapter, we trained every Saturday morning at a nearby college campus. It was typical that we trained for a while, and then given homework to complete during the week. It was always interesting because most of the people on the team, when we started, had very little exposure to computer programming languages or concepts. So, there was a lot of time that we spent building our respective foundations to learn the necessary information to be successful.

The conferences were a ton of fun. First, you would get the opportunity to meet other people your age from all over the country. In addition, during my time on the teams, there were several fun events planned around the competitions during the conference. These times gave us a great opportunity to hang out and make friends away from the computer stuff. I actually made a couple of lifelong friends from my time on the team.

As for my career choices, my time on the team, as well as the skills I learned, led me to major in Computer Engineering in college. In addition, it helped me secure several internships for Fortune 500 companies during my collegiate career. I worked at such companies as MCI WorldCom (before the collapse), Fannie Mae, and Caterpillar, among others. After completing my Computer Science degree, I realized that computers were much more fun for me when they weren't my job. Based upon this new revelation, I pursued and achieved a Master's in Education, which I used to build a career in Higher Education. I am currently working at Indiana University – Bloomington helping to develop college students through their experiences living on campus. I still do a lot of stuff with computers, and have found that my skills – both technical and analytical – have been very useful in this career. Furthermore, I will be starting an MBA program here at Indiana University this fall. And the foundation for all of those skills came from my time on the BDPA computer competition team.

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Mackale Joyner: Kansas City (1996)

The BDPA national computer competition was very exciting and the conference affirmed my desire to pursue a career in software engineering. I enjoyed learning a new language and spending months preparing for the competition. It was encouraging to see so many people at the competition with my background that shared similar interests. I would later learn that the BDPA national competition was a good experience for college as I had to learn several new programming languages while in college in a short time span. I am greatly appreciative for all those involved in sending the Kansas City team to the national conference, especially our coaches who spent many hours helping us prepare for the competition.

The BDPA has made a vital impact in my education endeavors. After I was accepted to Rice University, I was given the opportunity to visit Rice during Owl weekend. Owl weekend is a weekend in April where all accepted high school seniors are invited to stay on campus to experience what college life is like at Rice. This is a good opportunity for seniors who haven't decided on a college to experience what life might be like at a particular university.

When I arrived at Rice, I was greeted by someone from the admission office. When I told her my name, she immediately identified me as the person who competed in a national computer programming competition. She was referring to the BDPA national competition that I competed in the summer after my junior year in high school. She [went] on to tell me that the competition really distinguished my application from others and was one of the main reasons why I was accepted into Rice. The door that the BDPA helped open at Rice subsequently led to other doors being opened which enabled me to complete my PhD in Computer Science at Rice University.

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When I joined the BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter and enrolled in Youth Computer Training Program (YCTP) in fall 2005, little did I know what was ahead of me. A number of high school students meet in a rigorous computer programming class for 3 hours each Saturday for about 8 months throughout the year. The top 5 are selected to represent the chapter in a national competition.

In my first year participating in YCTP, I did not excel in class, but I quickly learned every web technology that was taught, including HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL relational databases and others. By the end of the second year, I could create full-fledged database driven web applications. I was a little nervous in class because most of the students were older than my age. However, I was proud to be among the 5 students selected each year for four consecutive years to represent the chapter.

In 2007, not only did I return to class, but I personally recruited a diverse group of new students to join the YCTP. I approached the YCTP class that year with a new resolve, committed not only to earning a spot on the competition team, but also helping my fellow classmates to succeed. 2007 was my first year on the HSCC team, and I was given the opportunity to learn various roles for the competition, serving as the database administrator, technical writer, and lead tester. To prepare for the national competition, we had a boot camp. My fellow teammates and I worked several weeks throughout the summer times, practicing computer programming, project management, presentation and teamwork. The coordinators and the volunteers were excellent and usually kept the training interesting and alive.

At the National Competition in Washington DC that year, (and other years) we competed against over 20 other chapters from much larger cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Throughout a 2-day national competition, culminating in a 7-hour web programming project, our hard work (usually) paid off and the Southern Minnesota team earned the 1st place award. It was a great experience for me. With that experience, the competitions in Atlanta, Raleigh and Philadelphia were not different, and we maintained the1st position.

Even though I started YCTP as unskilled �computer programmer� making appearance and putting in a few hours weekly, I have to say that I ended up a different person with leadership skills, human relations skills, passion for making a difference, having the sense of satisfaction, and other virtues. With the kind of commitment the coordinators and volunteers demonstrated in training and supporting the class, I have also come to understand the value and the importance of giving back to the community. The impact of feeling just a little bit more positive about life, and the spirit of generosity and giving back unconditionally to others, even to strangers as well.

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Stephanie Lampkin: Washington, DC

As my junior year in college steadily approaches, my experiences involved in BDPA's HSCC-DC as a junior in high school seem more like fond childhood memories. I'm sure most think I can still be considered a "child” and wonder how much could have possibly changed in less than four years. Well, contrary to what most think, a lot has changed and in the next four years even more will change because I'm on the fast track. However, I can't nearly take all the credit for what I've accomplished because there have been organizations such as BDPA and the amazingly altruistic people involved who have helped me stay on the right track and focus my energies in areas most beneficial to my future. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't hesitate to say that BDPA was the first organization to reach out to me and provide me with the tools necessary to lay down the foundation of which I will continually build upon to reach my goals in life.

My passion for computers and technology are what initially drew me into the HSCC program and what I took away from the experience was more than I expected. Though our team did not perform well during the competitions, it did not take away from the empowerment and encouragement I felt when I saw hundreds of African American professional women and men representing success, leadership, and cultural responsibility. People who were committed to ensuring that kids like me, who did not come from the most uplifting environments, would still have the opportunity to explore a vastly growing field with endless possibilities. From that point on I knew I wanted to be one of those sharp professional Black women who didn't let the obstacles of their race or gender hinder their path towards success in an industry where they are disproportionately underrepresented.

My path towards this goal started and continues in the classroom. As a sophomore in high school, I started doing college and scholarship searches on the internet, going to bookstores and libraries to find related books, and making regular visits to my guidance counselor. By junior year, I had a good idea of what schools I wanted to apply to and how to get in them: stellar academics, community involvement, exceptional standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. So, by senior year I enrolled in seven Advanced Placement courses, one of which (AP Computer Science), was every Saturday morning from 8:00AM – 12:00Noon. Seven AP classes were unprecedented in Westlake High School history and it's such a rigorous course load that most schools only allow you to take four, but I still managed to get straight A's in all of them. On top of that, I ran and was elected senior class president, participated in our school's Computer Bowl team, Math team, National Honor Society, and various community service organizations like Best Buddies. My motto was "Short-term sacrifices for Long-term goals!” I scored 1370 on my SAT by studying vocabulary flash cards over the summer and taking advantage of free SAT tutorials. During this plight, I unfortunately experienced adversity and discouragement from envious friends and a few Caucasian teachers of mine who claimed I "wasn't that smart” and "shouldn't try so hard to do well because I'll get in college through affirmative action anyway.” But I had to let all that negativity fuel my fire. I was accepted into all five schools that I applied to with full scholarships: University of Maryland (College Park), Spelman College, Columbia University, Duke University, and Stanford University.

Currently, I attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, also known as Silicon Valley. I'm majoring in Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) with a focus in Technology and Organizations and a minor in Computer Science. As a freshman, last year I landed a great internship with Northrop Grumman as an Information Systems Intern and played an active role in on campus organizations such as National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Stanford Undergraduate Minority Business Association (SUMBA), and Business Association for Stanford Engineering Students (BASES). I aspire to work in Business Management/Technology Consulting for a few years leading up to graduate studies at the Harvard Business School where I'll attain my MBA. Hopefully, not too long thereafter I will be in a position to start my own entrepreneurial pursuits because I don't aspire to help build any one else's company but my own.

I've given my testimonial to just give a small example of how BDPA is impacting the community on a large scale. It has helped me and many others like me in so many ways by merely sparking the flame that will always burn and in time will be sparked in other aspiring youth. It's a gift that never stops giving. So I encourage anyone in a position to give their support and be a part of BDPA to do so knowing that it can make a world of difference.

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Khadijah Lovejoy,Hartford (2004)

Back in the day it was said that women would be unfit for motherhood and marriage if they had a good education. It was a very old saying and is holds no truth in this age in time. Women with education succeed, prosper, and allow themselves to have more opportunities without education. And I can truly testify to this.

In 2004, I joined BDPA to further my education in IT, website building, etc. I was one of the very few females from the Hartford Public Schools to join this "club" and become involved in the unthinkable. Unthinkable meaning: hard work, a job that took determination, a job that took persistency. I had possessed all these skills but BDPA allowed me to show the skills I had to be a "winner". Not just meaning taking 3rd place in the HSCC, but learning to work as team, becoming a professional in my work, and furthering my knowledge out of the class room time.

BDPA had also given me that comfort to be around other youth that shared the same passion as me. I couldn't get that in my school. I was considered a "nerd", an outsider. The program ensured me that "education is the key". It had been one of the BEST programs I've been involved in that helped me build my leadership skills. I took risks, I panicked, I was scared when I got to Detroit for the HSCC. But when I spoke to leaders and students from all over the U.S. they gave me comfort and guidance. I've learned so much from BDPA and still to this day I still use that knowledge I've gained.

Over the past 6 years I held high positions in my school and at work because of my experience with BDPA. I've held the position as President and Layout editor with my high school's newspaper club by using my layout skills that I've learned. I also landed a job with a non-profit for two years with marketing, designing, etc. BDPA has opened up so many doors for me that weren't imaginable. And I thank BDPA by the grace of God for starting a foundation of knowledge for me, allowing me to succeed.

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Brandee Lyles, Columbus (2010)

I truly enjoyed myself at the BDPA conference. To be honest at first I didn't think I would have liked being there. I thought that it would be boring, just all work and no fun. In the end the whole trip turned out to be successful, even though I had to leave early, the time I spent there was very beneficial. All the activities worked my brain and kept me on edge the whole time. I always looked forward to what was next, other than the long boring speeches. It was nice to be around other children that you could relate to and had somewhat similar interests. Most of the adults there were nice and helpful.

I believe the best part of the trip was the people I was around, my teammates and chaperones. I felt comfortable with all of them, all the laughs during dinner (we were dead during breakfast), the frustrations of trying to figure out why the code wasn't working, even the staying up late then struggling to get up early in the morning. Plus who could complain about free meals? Overall I think my team and I worked very well together and I am looking forward to doing the program again.

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Tarik Massac: Washington, DC (2006-2008)

My name is Tarik Massac; I was born and raised in Washington D.C, and eventually moved to Maryland where I completed most of my education. I just recently graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School. I plan to attend Prince George's Community College. I am majoring in computer science with every intention to make my career in the information technology industry. After my two years at PGCC, I plan to attend a local university to receive my bachelor's degree in computer science. I have had work experience in the computer field as an administrative assistant at the Patriots Technology Training Center, where I found out about the BDPA and HSCC.

I have been part of the HSCC for three years, with this being my final year. I would have to say that my most memorable moment would be that of the actual competition. Despite all the stories you have heard, it really is something you have to experience for yourself. Participating in the HSCC, as well as preparing for it, has taught me many things about working in computer-related fields. The team does most, if not all, the work. Even then, you do not simply spend all your time programming, if anything, that's the least amount of time spent on a project. Along with that, planning and designing is essential to coming up with a good product, which is something that I had never really thought about. I am very glad that the HSCC has really shone light on my field of choice.

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Lisa Minott :BDPA Hartford (1996-1997)

B.S. Management Information Systems, May 2004
University of Connecticut
Suma Cum Laude

I believe the greatest gifts you can give children are to believe in them, and to expose them to life's infinite possibilities. I attended an informational about BDPA Hartford's training program while only in the seventh grade, but it set me on a path that changed the course of my life. Over the next five years, I went from having a cursory knowledge of computers, to understanding core programming constructs, and developed better problem solving, and presentation skills. I built a level of confidence that blossomed from the attention and encouragement of the Hartford chapter's mentors. Young professionals themselves at the time, they spent countless hours patiently teaching us and took a personal interest in each of our lives.

I was a member of the program for two years before I was old enough to compete and attended my first national competition in 1996. Although we finished 16th the opportunity to network with the other youth chapters, attend workshops, and be in the general atmosphere of dynamic IT professionals from my background unlocked a sense of the life's potential. My teammates and I attended the Houston competition with a renewed sense of purpose, and a small chapter from Hartford, CT took home the championship in 1997.

Now five years into my IT career at a Fortune 500, I still look to my mentor's from the BDPA program for guidance and advice, and thankfully, they are always only a phone call or email away. I met some of my closest friends through the program, and even built friendships with members of other teams, all across the country, that still thrive today. My success as a young professional has a direct path back to the discipline, determination, and support gained through my years of involvement with BDPA. The program is invaluable to me, and so I offer a humble thank you to everyone who continues to contribute to its growth.

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Hassan Moustafa: BDPA Washington DC (2008)

Hello my name is Hassan Moustafa. I graduated from high school in 2008 from Charles Herbert Flowers High School. I am currently attending the University of Maryland College Park, studying bioengineering. During the fall semester of 2008, I attend Prince George's Community College as I waited to be admitted into the University of Maryland College Park for the spring semester of 2009. Even though I am currently majoring in bioengineering, I have learned a lot through the BDPA and HSCC programs about the information technology industry. I plan on integrating all I have learned about programming and expanding my knowledge base in order to explore a useful application for it within my discipline as I am gaining laboratory experience.

Furthermore, I have only participated in the HSCC program for only one year, as I was a high school senior year at the time. I regret finding about the HSCC program during my senior year, because that made it the first and final year I could be a part of the program. I learned so much from my mentors about programming in general, but I learned more so about teamwork and effort working with my teammates as well. My most memorable HSCC moments would have to be those days before the competition, where the whole team would prepare diligently for all three parts of the competition. We worked on different strategies and experimented with all of them for hours each day. I truly miss those indelible moments. In summation, the HSCC has impacted me in becoming more open to learning something so new and at times abstract by introducing me to different programming languages that I had no prior exposure to. It was very interesting to see its application in our real-world applications and I plan on continuing to learn more programming even as a bioengineer.

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Jasmine Oliver:New York Chapter

When I first received a letter from BDPA saying that I had been accepted into the HSCC program, I didn't think anything of it nor did I plan to go. But, something just told me to go and see about it. When I went, I wasn't very interested and I thought it was going to be boring and no fun, especially since it took away my whole Saturday. After about two weeks or so I started getting into it and it became interested, especially since I was considering a career in the field.

It frustrated me that others took this opportunity as a joke, while I was putting my time and effort into it. As the months passed, we became committed, we formed a bond with each other and we worked as a team. Everyone helped each other and soon we began to complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. When it was announced who was on the 2003 HSCC team, that is when it really occurred to me that I was really going to have a chance to show some of my skills to the world and I realized that my hard work paid off. I was excited and thrilled to go, since I had never had an opportunity to experience something like this.

The pressure was on because it was the 25th National Conference and it was scheduled to take place at the competition's birthplace of Philadelphia. Upon arriving in Philadelphia, I was excited and thought that it wasn't going to be as bad as I expected. That same night when we met all the teams, I still thought it wasn't going to be that hard. But then the first day of the competition got underway, and it consisted of the oral and written portions, I was so very nervous. However, once we made it through the first part, I felt better because we did well.
At one point, we were required to remain in the waiting room for everyone to finish the written competition. I was excited and nervous because I didn't know what to expect, but at the same time I wanted to get it over with. While we were in the waiting room, we had a chance to meet the other teams and become acquainted. The hardest day of all was the second day during which we were tasked to create our program. The day appeared to go slowly, but we made the most of it, even at the times we thought about giving up. The overall conference was amazing because it is surprising to see how many people are really excited and happy to see young teenagers performing the skills that they have.

Overall, I had a joyous experience, I would tell anyone who receives a letter of acceptance from BDPA to go because it will be an experience that one will never forget. If I have the opportunity to go again, it will be an honor and I will be proud.

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Khalif Oliver: Richmond Chapter

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 QBASIC, and was able to translate this experience to Visual BASIC and using MS Access. Though I got my degree in Engineering in 2004 [from Virginia Tech], the IT skills I learned in BDPA-Richmond have gotten me very far. Just last week, 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 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 ten was great in the competition, 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 BPDA, though I am in engineering and most of them kept with IT.

I am an Engineer by title--I just got a new position at the US Postal Service National Headquarters in DC. But a lot of my role will be 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. 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!

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Kevin Pace: BDPA Twin Cities (2005 - 2006)

My name is Kevin Pace. I am currently attending Winona State University. I was involved with the High School Computer Competition in 2005 and 2006.

BDPA Twin Cities Chapter has been a great part of my life. I first started in BDPA spring training session when I was 14 years old. I thought to myself that information technology and computer technology were the hardest things in the world. The computer training was a very great experience that challenged me to work harder not only in high school itself, but also on Saturdays with BDPA.

With the hard work and determination, I was able to go to my first BDPA national conference and competition in Detroit. I had a lot fun networking with other students from other chapters during the 2005 national competition in Detroit. Some students had the same background in computers as I did (little to none) and I felt very welcomed. During the competition I remember getting the highest number right on the test part and we as a team did very good on the group test. I was the data base person that networked our webpage together in the website building competition. We finished in 17th place at the end of the 2005 national competition.

We did better the next year. We finished in 10th place at the 2006 national competition in Los Angeles.

BDPA did change my world perspective on my college approach. For instance, I wanted to go to Wartburg College as a Pre-Med mayor. After gaining knowledge from BDPA, I decided to major in Clinical Laboratory Science at Winona State University. I was able to build a bridge between my interests in both computer technology and medicine. I am very grateful to be in a life-changing organization like BDPA. I look forward giving back to BDPA has its giving me as a teenager.

Kevin Pace
Clinical Laboratory Science Major
Winona State University

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Lauren Pemberton: BDPA Southern Minnesota Chapter (2005 - 2008)

My name is Lauren Pemberton, and I am currently attending Rice University. I was involved with HSCC from 2005 to 2008, and it greatly influenced my plans for the future. I am planning on majoring in computer science and seeing what job opportunities the degree opens up for me. I hope to find a job that includes traveling, meeting inspired and intelligent people, and working on innovative projects.

From the moment I attended my first class with BDPA, I was addicted to learning all I could about programming, computers, design, and anything else my teachers mentioned. I felt that if I did not go, I was missing something valuable and interesting, so I continued to attend every Saturday. It was certainly a unique experience to have such a creative, stimulating, and accepting environment available every weekend.

Being a new member of BDPA and new to the concept of programming itself, I was surprised and honored when chosen as a member of the five-person team for the 2005 conference in Detroit. I was assigned the job of presentation coordinator and familiarized with the competition details. After a summer filled with concentrated preparation, I was elated when we won 1st place in the High School Computer Competition. These emotions carried me into the next year as I was determined to be even more involved than before.

The coursework invigorated me once again and I learned entirely new concepts in my second year with BDPA. I accomplished my goal to be more involved when I became project manager for our team in 2006. We traveled to Los Angeles with a new team, and we won 2nd place after a fun and exciting conference. This victory was even more meaningful because I had played a bigger role in the process, and our team had learned many new things that year. I knew that if we continued to study hard and focus on teamwork, we would be an even greater competitor the following year.

In 2007, I was once again project manager, and we traveled to the nation's capital hoping to represent our chapter well. Our hard work resulted in our team winning 1st place in Washington, D.C. This was one of the proudest moments of my life. Our team had sought to improve and demonstrate our skills in programming and teamwork, and we were successful.

The following year, we continued our winning streak by achieving 1st place in Atlanta, Georgia. My previous participation in the competition did not dampen my emotions, as I was just as anxious, delighted and grateful to win the grand prize. It was a fantastic way to end my high school career with BDPA, and I will never forget my four amazing years of participation in the HSCC.

I am not considered a minority in my "normal” life, but I am fortunate enough to have been able to exist in such a situation with the HSCC because it has changed my outlook on life forever. I was welcomed into BDPA and their programming class by supportive teachers and motivated students like myself. When I joined this class, I was under the notion that I was not a minority, but now I know what I am … I am a teenager who knows how to program in PHP and has a passion for learning. I know that I would never have become the knowledgeable and strong person I am today if I had not joined this outstanding program.

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Bogdan Pomerlyan

Early on in high school I spent most of my time learning the ins and outs of desktop publishing applications. I excelled in that and decided to expand into networking because our school was starting a new set of classes in that direction. I did well in networking and enjoyed it, but there was one more field that I wanted to try before graduating from high school. That was application and web programming. The problem was that my class load was already packed and I didn’t have the resources to learn the material at home. It wasn’t until a friend invited me to join him at a BDPA meeting and I started attending regularly that I was able to explore the programming world.
It was even better than taking a class on the subject though because we had real-world professionals that taught us. The environment was relaxed and you were able to learn at your own pace. We met in sophisticated "classrooms” that were owned by the companies we dreamed of one day working for which honestly made the whole experience very inspirational; then there was the National High School Computer Competition in Chicago. Although our chapter did not win, I will never forget and will always treasure the experience. Ultimately, BDPA exposed me to the field I later decided would be my starting career. For that I will always be grateful to those that sacrificed their time and money.

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It is so great to know that I am still in the thoughts of those who have greatly inspired me. Everyone I've met through BDPA has greatly influenced my life, and I am both honored and excited to share my HSCC experience with others.

I was part of BDPA's High School Computer Competition between 2002 and 2005. I absolutely have to count 2002 because that was the year that Southern Minnesota's team came in 10th place. We were in Orlando that year enjoying DisneyWorld as we were pampered by the organization every hour of the day. The hotel was marvelous, the food was wonderful, and DisneyWorld, of course, was great. Orlando showed me something very important that has stayed with me since 2002: that there were young African Americans just like me who were intelligent, driven, and unashamed of being that way. We all had the same goal, and instead of being strange or out of the norm, that felt entirely natural. Being around so many Black intellectuals gave me a sense of belonging and pride that I just haven't been able to let go. Had it not been for HSCC 2002, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, and today I feel that I am in a great place.

Winning second place in 2003, I believe, was the direct result of our 10th place standing in 2002. I remember leaving Orlando after losing that year feeling extremely motivated to do well the next year. The competitiveness of HSCC is extreme. If anything, when you walk into the competition you want nothing but to do well. You want people to see how hard you have been working. In 2002, we learned how it felt to lose out, and to me, that was absolutely necessary in order for us to win.

After a brief break after returning home, we worked diligently every session, fueled off of our experience in Orlando. We learned new technologies and studied our old code. We read the required material and took it as doctrine. We practiced often, and after the team for HSCC was chosen, we practiced even more. What we liked to refer to as "boot camp” came during the summertime. The HSCC team became a true family because we worked together until we were tired of each other, and we continued to work until we liked each other again. My father was instrumental in molding us into a team and giving us the necessary tools for competing. We all had our individual roles to complement each other. Although I was considered lead programmer, the balance of the team never rested on my shoulders.

When we traveled to Philadelphia, we were ten times more focused than the year before. There was no playing around because we wanted to win. We didn't skip any session; every opportunity to practice was taken without question. Upon arriving, we familiarized ourselves with the software, the computers, and started scheduling our time. Although we practiced often, we still had a lot of fun in Philly - after the competition was over!

The competition that year was tough. The problem was a military deployment problem that involved a lot of database relationships. There were a ton of pictures and icons, and a lot of processes were required. We spent seven hours doing what we had been doing for the past months. We felt comfortable, focused, and capable of solving the problem. After the competition, which seems long and arduous but really goes by very fast, we knew that we had done something great. We went out into the city, celebrated, and hoped for the best. At the banquet (I've always loved the banquets), we held hands tight as the teams were called. When they called us for second place, we felt as if we had won! There was no defeat in us. We had come from 10th place to 2nd, putting Southern Minnesota's team "on the map.” We had made it.

After winning second place, we didn't stop. As soon as we started class again, we redid our problem to make it perfect. We didn't modify the code, we completely redid it. Moreover, the team was changing; there were different team members, people graduated, and the structure of the class changed. That year, we worked extremely hard, critiquing our own code the most. We weren't trying to beat Memphis as much as we were trying to beat ourselves.

In Dallas, we were in the same mindset as in Philly: extremely focused. We got 2nd place again. Thankful, we knew we still needed to improve. The following year, we sharpened our skills in all areas, focusing more and more on presentation skills and professionalism. Around Minnesota, we were starting to be recognized by community leaders and our school district. Everyone was so supportive, and we had our "team-family” to lean on during long nights of practice.

When we got to Detroit, we faced some tough competitors, teams that seemed to come out of nowhere. We knew that all of the chapters were on their "A-game,” so predicting the outcome was impossible. We just knew to stay humble and focus on the problem. By that time, competing was second-nature to the veterans of the team, so our new teammates were comfortable and focused as well. I remember walking out of the room after seven hours (really about eight since we were one of the last teams to present), feeling so happy. It was my last year competing, and I was pleased about the work I had contributed. I knew that we'd put forth our best effort.

Winning that year was surreal. We had worked so hard over the past few years, and it seemed as if we were being rewarded not for winning that particular problem but for all of the effort we had given up until that point. The win was not just for the HSCC team; it was for the YCTP students who came to the conference with us, the teammates that had graduated, the volunteers who had taught us, and all of the parents and friends who had supported us. Winning first place in HSCC was a high point in my life that I will never forget. However, the experience of BDPA as a whole was even more valuable. BDPA taught me so much about teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. It showed me that I had abilities I never thought I had.

Now, I attend one of the most prestigious universities in the country, and I am having the time of my life. I have taken so many of the skills I gained from BDPA and applied them here in school. For that reason, I am forever indebted to BDPA because I believe those skills and experiences will continue to carry me to success during my lifetime.

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Every child has a dream or vision of what they want to be when they "grow up”, and for me all I could see in my future was medicine. Well that all changed during my seventh grade year, of middle school when I became part of BDPA, suddenly I wanted to work within the IT field. I've been a member of BDPA for ten years and my involvement in this organization had a huge impact on my current career. Not only did BDPA provide me with outstanding programming skills, but this organization has helped me overcome my fear of public speaking and gave me an extra boost in my confidence level.

Having the opportunity to learn so much and network with so many people gave me more of competitive edge when I entered into the realm of Corporate America. I am currently an Information Analyst at a large Oil company located in Houston, TX and I have BDPA to thank for a part of my success.

Quin Raye competed in the national high school competition 1998,1999,2000 and 2001.

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Kunle Roberts: Southern Minnesota (2006 - 2008)

A lot of my time over the last four years has been contributed to BDPA, and thankfully a lot of it has paid off. I have been in BDPA since 9th grade and I'm happy to say that I've continued to participate in YCTP/HSCC each year. BDPA creates a unique experience for learning a new skill and meeting new people and I'm extremely blessed to have been a part of the Southern Minnesota chapter.

My first year in BDPA was spent crawling my way through things trying to develop an understanding for web programming. Though I had no previous experience with binary, HTML, or ASP.Net, I managed to be chosen as an alternate for the HSCC team by the end of the year. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to the National Conference in Detroit, but after some urging by the chapter's coordinators I decided to go. At that conference (besides having to wake up early and dress up each day), I had an awesome time. I was completely stunned and amazed by the surroundings of the GM Renaissance Center. I recognized the true scope of BDPA since I was suddenly surrounded by each of the chapters from around the country. After returning from the conference and seeing my teammates win 1st Place, I was sold on BDPA.

The next fall I jumped into BDPA with a renewed fervor. I worked steadily throughout the year and emerged as one of the top five students in the class, earning me a spot on my chapter's HSCC team. This is where the real work began as our team started to truly train for the competition. We spent many long hours studying together through the summer months. Our team went into the competition confident that we could do well, even though there was only one returning member from the previous year. We did very well despite our inexperience and took 2nd place. We came home happy but with a burning desire to do even better the following year.

My third year in BDPA seemed to go by quickly. The Southern Minnesota chapter had taken steps in streamlining the program and by now nothing was unfamiliar to me. I was once again chosen as an HSCC team member and the other team members were all very capable and experienced. We knew we hadn't proved anything yet, but we were confident that we had what it took to win. This was exactly what we did, as we took the first place prize in 2007.

BDPA has been a central part of my life and has had a profound effect on me over the last four years. As I head off to Rice University, I am doing so with the goal of majoring in Computer Science, mostly due to the influence of BDPA and web programming. Competing in the HSCC competition is by no means an easy thing to excel at and I am thankful to have found success in it. I am extremely glad to have been a part of the Southern Minnesota chapter, and I look forward to being involved in BDPA in the future.

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Andreaus Robinson [Chicago: 2006-2007]

My name is Andreaus Robinson; I participated on national High School Computer Competition (HSCC) teams trained by BDPA Chicago chapter in 2006 and 2007. Our team won the championship in 2006 and took third place in 2007. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Champaign. My major at this point is computer science; however, I plan to pursue a minor in business and possibly degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering. I know this may sound like a lot, but I am a highly ambitious person I have many career goals I plan to pursue. I desire a career in robotics, which is why I am trying to get so many degrees; I want to know as much as I can about the different sides of robotics. I also plan to one day own my technology company, which Is why I also want to minor in business so that I'll be fairly business savvy as well.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of interning for several different companies. The first was for my dad's Architecture company when I was only 15, for which I designed a project management tool based off the needs of the company. My next internship opportunity came in 2006 when I worked for a professor DePaul University. I worked with Professor Jean Huang and her team to design a traceability application that they were building for Siemens. This provided a great opportunity for me because my name was published on a project and I got the opportunity of working with a group of foreign students.

My most recent internship was in 2008, when I was working for Allstate Insurance Company as a developer helping to create the next installment of the employee desktop page. This was a wonderful opportunity for me because it was a large project and I was able to learn a lot while working on this project, as well as personally work with people who had been programming for years. It was also nice to see firsthand how life working in IT might actually be.

I owe my thanks to BDPA for acquiring this internship, because Willie Anderson an active member of BDPA as well as the IT director at Allstate helped me acquire this position.

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Hey wassup everyone! Right now I am currently attending Phoenix East Aviation Flight school in Daytona Beach, Florida. I have my private pilot license and am now working on my instrument rating, (which teaches me to fly in the clouds and in bad weather safely and efficiently). Next August, when I graduate, I will move to Atlanta, Georgia where I will be paid as a flight instructor at one of the flight schools. Six months after that I'm off to the airlines. My life is going really good right now. I couldn't ask for better. Back in the day, BDPA-LA taught me a lot.

The one main thing I learned from the HSCC Program was to stick to something you started. There are times where things might not be as easy as we want them to be and the easiest way out is to quit. But if you continue to do that, you'll never accomplish anything in life, and that will become a habit that stays with you forever. So I thank everyone from BDPA that helped me learn a lesson that went beyond the principles of computers. If anyone reading this is considering joining the computer class, I strongly recommend it because it truly is an experience to remember!

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Marcellus A. Sims: Philadelphia (2006 - 2007)

Hello my name is Marcellus A. Sims and I attend Bodine High School for International Affairs. I have been with BDPA since 2003 and have benefited from them greatly. BDPA has really given me guidance in what I attend on majoring in while in college, which will be computer science. Without BDPA showing me all the great thing that are out there for computer science graduates I probably would have went in a different directions.

The guidance that people showed me in BDPA have made me look at things in a different way then looking at the normal Doctors or lawyer's careers. This program has really given me an opportunity to succeed in life and to do bigger and better thing s in life. The people in BDPA want us as participants, not to just learn programming but to learn life skills and a passion for the computer industry.

BDPA [teaches] us to look at things out of the norm, so that we can stand out of the crowd. This way allows us [to] show people our talents and that we just don't follow the crowd. BDPA also gives life skills that we will use later in life. Technology is taking over the world and being used in everyday life and BDPA teaches us everything we need, so when we enter college and eventually our careers, we will already be prepared. Without this program, I would not [be] the young man writing you. This program has given me a lot and I plan on giving back to them when I get a chance.

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Marvin Street

2001 was quite a few years ago, however, I do remember the competition being very intense - much more intense than the real world is. However, I also remember enjoying myself at the social and enjoying being around so many other people who were into the same things I was. It was an excellent opportunity to travel to a new city. I had never been to Chicago before the competition. Coincidently, I fell in love with the city and I currently live in the south suburbs of Chicago.

I'm still best friends with two of my teammates, although we were already beginning to become friends just before I was introduced to the program. I'm sure that our shared experience as teammates helped push us that much closer and lead us to rely on each other.

My coaches were fantastic. Danielle and Dwight are both still heavily involved in my life. They still offer advice and assistance when I need it, and I feel like I can rely on either of them in any time of need. The entire BDPA experience, at least for me, was a life-changer. It helped me focus my interests. It also introduced me to some people and experiences that have helped shape my life since.

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Veronica Taylor: Detroit (1999 - 2000)

After receiving an email from a member of BDPA asking for a short bio of what I have been up to, I could not help but take a spin down memory lane. Looking through old photos from the computer competitions that my team won (and lost -- I will never forget Chicago!), I really began to realize the impact that the years I spent working with BDPA had on my life. My participation in the program was more for me than just a way to develop my understanding of technology – and the role that minorities can and should play.

After my BDPA High School Computer Competition days were over, I went on to study Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy at Michigan State University, with a second specialization in the French language. Though I did not intend to follow the IT track, I did manage to work throughout college in IT (mainly networking) to help pay my way through.

During my 3rd year at MSU, I decided that I wanted to immerse myself in the language, so I moved to France for a year to study French history and literature. As it often goes with Paris, I fell in love with it. So, I finished my 4th year at MSU, then moved back to Paris to teach English to inner-city (most newly-arrived African immigrants) kids for a year.

Once the teaching program ended, my new life in Paris was just getting started! So, I began to think of ways to stay and make a living. I called on my training received whilst with BDPA, and the professional experience gained throughout college. And here I am, working in the IT department (mainly in support & testing/development) at the New York Stock Exchange/Euronext Paris office.

BDPA is a valuable experience for young people for many reasons. We learned how to work hard towards an objective in a team-oriented environment. In the training leading up to all of our competitions, we learned to be resourceful, and use what skills we had available. So, this is what I've been up to – using many of the skills that I've acquired during my experience with BDPA.

PS – I will be happy to show you guys around should you decide to have the National Conference in my neighborhood someday.

Veronica Taylor
Graduate, Michigan State University (Class of 2006)
BDPA HSCC Alumni (Class of 1999-2000)

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Pengtao 'Mac' Teng [Greater Tampa Bay: 2002-2003, 2005, 2007]

I can say for a fact that BDPA changed my life. Prior to my experience with the Tampa Bay chapter, I was an ordinary middle school student who was complacent with what I was learning in class. I did not know anything about computers, much less how to make a web page, and my parents were not in the IT industry. My BDPA instructors taught me things I never would have learned in school, and their immense professionalism made a huge impact on my personal development. My BDPA training taught me to think like an engineer, and for a young kid, being able to see your ideas materialize in a web page was mind-blowing.

Going to the national competition, at the time, was a cool and fun experience. Now that I am in college, I have come to realize how extraordinary it was that I, as a rising high-school student, was able to meet leaders of industry at a professional conference My experience with the high school computer competition is an opportunity that many of my peers would fight tooth and nail for today. Attending the various national BDPA conferences and competing in the national competition allowed me to see that nothing is impossible through hard work and a little bit of luck.

BDPA has not only developed my academic interests -- I am studying engineering at Penn -- but also made me realize the importance of community and of giving back. I remind myself that I am who I am today because of all the efforts of other people who devoted time and energy for my benefit, and I try to do the same by reaching out in my spare time to be a resource for young students through volunteer organizations.

After a couple of weeks I started enjoying the class, mostly because I knew all the answers and it made feel extremely smart. I started socializing more with the other people in the class, and every class became more fun.

On July 26, 2003 they announced the people that would represent DC in the High School Computer Competition. I was so excited to know that I along with seven other people were going to Philadelphia to represent the nation's capital. In addition to our 3-hour Saturday classes we started having classes on Sundays. We had two weeks to learn everything we could about BDPA and programming. Every free minute I had turned into a chance for me to study and practice.

When we arrived in Philadelphia on August 13, 2003 I was so excited. The rest of our day consisted of seminars. Honestly, the first night we were there I did not want to go to sleep because I knew the next day the real competition started. I never had so many butterflies in my life, I was immensely nervous.

We got all correct in the oral competition, and did pretty well in the written competition. That night we had to cram infinite amounts of programming code into the heads of four teenagers for the next day's programming competition.

The programming portion of the competition was probably the most difficult assignment I have ever experienced in my life. We had to sit in a room for 8 hours, writing a program that would probably take a professional programmer weeks or months to create. While sitting in that room there were times when we all just wanted to give up, there were times I even started crying—but we still got through it.

The rest of the trip was a big social event. Saturday morning we went to Jillian's and the mall. Saturday night we went to the banquet. On Sunday it was time for us to depart from one of the best experiences of my life. On the train ride back home it was a time for us to recollect all the memories that we had experienced those past couple of days, and it was a time for us to enjoy our last few hours with each other.

When I started BDPA I was only in the program so it would look good on my college transcript, but I left with so much more. I left with knowledge, friends, inside jokes, and most of all memories.

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Jessica Tipton: Atlanta (2002 & 2004)

"The average person lives to be about 70 years old; what you do with the first 20 years of your life, determine if you will spend the rest of your life paying the price of reaping the benefits you have sown." -Ben Carson

Now that I have reached age 22, I can definitely see the benefits of the seeds that I have sown. I am a recent graduate of Georgia State University majoring in Journalism, having worked at FOX 5 Atlanta, since 2004 and now at CBS Station Sales in New York. In addition, I am a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the reigning homecoming queen for Georgia State University. I have had many blessings in my life, but they did not come easily.

Born February 6, 1987, in Atlanta, Ga. my parents took care of all my household needs. With the combined efforts of my maternal and paternal grandparents, neither my siblings nor I wanted for anything. My paternal grandparents made sure that we were on top of our education seizing any opportunities that came our way. This is why when I heard about the BDPA HSCC program, I was willing to make the sacrifice of sleeping in on Saturdays to take advantage of the opportunity.

There were many times when I think of all the parties that I missed, or all the fun I could have had during high school, but I could not do anything that Friday night because of the HSCC classes on Saturday. Those sacrifices helped to keep me out of many situations that would have prohibited personal growth in the end. The classes helped to keep me focused. Not only did I learn the basics of web programming, but also I learned the importance of teamwork and giving back to the community through my HSCC instructors. Never have I seen a group of individuals up close and personal dedicated to the uplifting of the black community. I thought it was just something of the past, or something to watch on television, but my HSCC instructors helped to make it a reality.

My team went on to compete nationally landing the Atlanta Chapter second place in the 2002 competition. As I started debating in high school, I realized I had a passion for public speaking. That is when I became the project manager for the HSCC team, allowing me to capitalize on my public speaking capabilities.

That was the jumpstart to a career in journalism. Though I am not working directly in the IT industry, the skill set that I received from BDPA helped me to develop teamwork, project management and development skills that is necessary in any career path. BDPA planted seeds in my life, nurtured over the years through the many mentors that I have come across, that allow me to reap the benefits today.

Currently, employers are impressed with my ability to fuse media and technology to keep up with the pace of the industry, skills that would have never developed had I not been apart of the BDPA HSCC program.

"Feed a man to fish, he's fed for a day; teach a man to fish, he's fed for a lifetime.”

Thank you BDPA for teaching me to fish!

Caroline Tremain, Southern Minnesota (2006)

My name is Caroline Tremain. I graduated Mayo High School in Rochester, MN and anxiously await the start of my college studies at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities where I will pursue an area of business at the Carlson School of Management.

As I was going through high school I had different aspirations for my future. I first thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I was an active member on the debate team and believed that it would be an interesting career that I would be good at. In my senior year I did a mentorship with a local judge. I sat in his courtroom every Tuesday morning for three hours. After listening to many cases and watching the same people appear again and again for committing the same crime, I decided I did not want to be a lawyer, at least not a public defender. I like a sense of completion with my work and to me it seemed like lawyers never really complete their jobs, unless the case ends. They only chip away at parts of a case for months or even years. That would drive me crazy.

I once thought that I wanted to be an obstetrician. A close family friend of mine is an obstetrician and always talks about the beautiful baby girls and boys that she helps bring into the world everyday. However after I saw the birthing video in my sophomore year health class I quickly decided that I needed to find another profession. The health industry as a doctor or nurse was not for me. Blood and fluids need to remain inside the body for my job.

In addition to my mentorship senior year I was also the student director for the school musical. That fall we put on the show Annie. I realized that I have natural leadership skills and I can work proficiently at getting major tasks done with a group of people. I really enjoyed this because it kept me involved and in control of most of the aspects of the play. I am not sure what job I will end up doing but I concluded that a business degree could get me a job that I would enjoy and thrive at.

I started looking at schools that had good business programs that were close to home. I wanted to get out of Rochester but I didn't want to go to far away. I found the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University. After being accepted into both schools I had to make the decision between a small or a large school. I visited both and felt more comfortable at the University of Minnesota.

I am currently undecided on my major but I think it might lean towards marketing. My dad was a marketing manager for twenty-seven years and I think some of his job skills rubbed off on me a little. I understand it pretty well, but I know that there is still so much more to learn. I am very excited to start this fall and begin my future.

Okwudili Udeh: BDPA Hartford Chapter (2005 - 2008)

I am Okwudili Udeh, a member of the BDPA Hartford Chapter. Right now, I am a freshman at Ithaca College, majoring in Computer Science and Creative Writing. I plan on building applications to improve the comic book industry, like page layout design programs, new technology ideas and such, but currently, I've got my hands full with other work (college is no joke).

The HSCC program was my "summer camp”. For four years (five if you count the YTC), I've gone to different BDPA conferences around the United States, and learned new things about the IT industry, my teammates, and myself at each of them. In my opinion, those conferences provided knowledge and me the training I needed to be successful in college and high school. It taught me how to write a resume, network, how to utilize different software development strategies, teamwork, team management, new technology, and more. None of my high school classes covered those important topics!

My fondest memory throughout the five years was winning second place in Detroit. We did not win first place, but at that point, it sure felt like we did. I am usually not one to cry after something good happens, but I was close at that point. My high school caught word of it quickly, and for the first few weeks of school, a bunch of people were congratulating me, including my school's principal, since I was the only one in my school that was on the Hartford Chapter's HSCC team at the time. Even the Hartford Courant newspaper featured our team.

Although that is my fondest memory, the programming classes have influenced me the most. They were vigorous at times, but I always tried to attend each class because I felt so comfortable there. It was a place that I could hang out and talk about Information Technology with people that understood me. In addition, through these classes learned about things that actually fit my future career path, which is more towards computer programming.

I do not know what type of person I would have been without the HSCC program and BDPA in general, but I am sure he would not be as intelligent, or as happy, as I am. Through the BDPA, I gained a tighter bond with my family, new friends, a lot more knowledge about the Information Technology and business worlds, and a whole lot of self-confidence. In college, some of my friends wonder why I act so professional and methodical, and I give them all the same answer: it is because of what I learned through the BDPA.

My name is Trevor H. Williams. I am from Torrence, CA. I joined BDPA as a student member in 2005. Currently, I am a junior at Zebulon Vance High School in Charlotte, NC.

My goal is to major in computer science at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA after I graduate from college. After college, I plan to start my own information technology (IT) firm and in some form or fashion give back to BDPA.

BDPA has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I only knew how to download music from the Internet before I began taking the high school computer competition (HSCC) classes and competing in the national competition. Now, I know more than I could have ever imagined … I know more than some adults.

The experience has been great. Traveling around the country has been great. However, most important, the purpose of HSCC is even greater. HSCC training taught me that teamwork is very important.

My greatest experience so far has been meeting Martin Davis, Wachovia's Corporate CIO. By meeting him and learning about what he does, I learned that IT could take you far, farther than your wildest imagination. IT can make a person, no matter whom or what you are, a successful person. BDPA has taught me life-lessons that I will never forget, and I am truly thankful to the organization.

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Wes Williams: Memphis Chapter


My older brother Donovan was part of Memphis BDPA three years prior to my joining, so BDPA was not new to me. Donovan, even at his young age, was very technical. Therefore, BDPA was perfect for him. But what about the kids who are not as technically advanced as Donovan? Those kids like me.

I was what you would call a typical teenager. Hanging out all the time, goofing off, and walking through life aimlessly and hopelessly with low self-esteem. My mind wasn't focus on school, the future, or anything for that matter. My dad always told me "never live your life as wasted talent." That's just what I was becoming, "Wasted Talent."

My parents knew that I had endless potential, but I couldn't see it. So we were running out of options. God blessed my parents and got me in BDPA. Needless to say I was very skeptical of joining at first, but I gave it a chance.

Once in Memphis BDPA, wonderful instructors and the entire Memphis BDPA family helped bring out all my talents. Not just technical talents, but also how to speak better, create a resume and be more professional. Most importantly, BDPA gave me a new attitude.

The instructors helped and supported my brother Trevor, two friends and I start our company, Zenoge Enterprise ( They also lead our computer programming team to four consecutive National High School Computer Competition championships.

BDPA and Memphis BDPA did so much for me, I wanted to make sure that they would grow as a high school team and a chapter. I volunteered to be an instructor, mentor, and motivator for the all the classes. I was part of the first IT Showcase for college students in 2003. I received second place honors.

Although Memphis BDPA is my home, my love, and my heart, I didn't stop there. Now I work with the Chattanooga Chapter getting their HSCC program started. On my journey I hope to one day be an outstanding Chapter President and maybe a great National President.

BDPA helps students inside and outside the IT world. Students like me who might have been in their "terrible twos" all the way up through their teenage years. BDPA can help mold them into something outstanding.

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Leadership can emerge in unlikely places – even a room full of computer geeks. And sometimes, leadership is about more than just winning.

I began learning this in ninth grade, when I joined a computer-training program run by the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), a predominantly minority group. I hesitated at first to join a group with "Black” in its name; outside of school, I hadn't spent much time with anyone who looked different than I did. Fortunately, I went ahead and woke up at 8:30 every Saturday for BDPA class, which turned out to be a dream come true. Not only did I learn about computers; in addition, I learned a lot about African-American culture in my city and made a wonderful friend, Angi. She and I were among five students eventually chosen to compete in a national BDPA event. That summer, while my other friends relaxed at the pool, Angi and I organized daily computer practice sessions for the team, working late into the night.

By the end of Competition Day 1, Angi and I had earned top marks on the written tests and were sure our team would win. The next day, each team was given seven hours to build a DVD-rental website, complete with photos, trailers, shopping cart, secure login, and a recommended list personalized for each customer.

Despite the time crunch, I just knew we could do it. While Angi began programming the framework, I led everyone else in planning how our webpage would look and work. Later, Angi and I were copilots at the computer, programming while the others provided technical support. We lost that competition by a few points. Although thrilled with second place, we knew what we really wanted. We spent hours analyzing what went wrong and right, and what the winning team did to succeed. After realizing we needed to improve our presentation skills, we spent the next year practicing even harder.

The new task involved building a website for college students buying PCs and laptops. Our team started out strong but then, for some reason, part of our program wouldn't work. I could feel my adrenaline pumping while our team spent twenty precious minutes discussing what could be wrong. Finally, one of our suggestions worked. But by then, we were way off schedule and knew we would be lucky just to complete the task. As it turned out, our team did manage to finish. I felt so proud of our recovery that winning no longer mattered. Then, the judges announced that we had won (although I didn't actually hear it because Angi was screaming so loudly). Our community was so impressed that the school district and IBM asked us to build a website for a local project.

BDPA taught me a tremendous amount about leadership. I realized that placing second was the best thing that happened to our team. We learned from our mistakes and strived for greater success. I learned that practice and preparation are crucial. I learned never to give up, and that enormous satisfaction comes just from finishing a tough task. Best of all, BDPA taught me about diversity. Popular culture convinces us that we are all so different: black and white; gay and straight; Democrat and Republican. Maybe the real cultural divide is between technology geeks and everyone else. But I doubt it. We all share more than we know.

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