Transcribed and Edited by Anisah Muhammad
On October 12, 2014, Jacqueline Sanders and Dave Blackman interviewed mentor and life coach Francisco Nunez. Francisco Nunez recently graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. He has participated in many research institutions and is a product of the BDPA High School Competition Program. He has worked for several technology companies, some of which include Hewitt Packard (HP), Microsoft, and the Boeing Company. He currently serves as a senior systems analyst for FIS Global.
Enjoy the summary of the interview below or visit TechnologyExpresso.com to hear the whole interview:
Q: How did you pick your major of Computer Science and your minor of Mathematics?
A: I had no idea what I wanted to do. One day I visited my Godfather, who is the instructor for the BDPA chapter in D.C.
He said, “I have a Saturday class, and I want you to stop by.”
I said, “What does that entail?”
Grandfather response “You have to invest about 4 or 5 hours into a class on Saturday morning.”
“I’ll pass on that.”
Long story short, I ended up going to the class and liking it. It was a technology / micromedia class. I progressively began to get more and more involved in technology and the different nuances of it. It evolved from action scripting / micromedia classes to the BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC). I spent 6 years pursuing technology and it naturally progressed and manifested into a desire to be in the Computer Science Field.
Q: What were some other aspirations going through college?
A: I’m very passionate about speech, linguistics, diction, and articulating. That manifested itself in a myriad of different ways. I enjoy Hip Hop music, free-styling, rapping, poetry, and public speaking. Through my matriculation in college, I learned that my talents were predominately in artistic expression. I knew how to think critically and work well in technology, and I liked it because it afforded me the opportunity to create something from nothing.
Q: What would you say to young people who are afraid of STEM because of mathematics?
A: The fear towards the STEM field, especially mathematics, is pervasive because of the fact that we have been groomed to adopt fear. I don’t believe it’s a fear that we own. When we experience things for the first time and they don’t go as we planned, we intuitively relate that to failure. We live in an instant gratification era, or the “Google Chrome” Era, as I like to call it. We want answers instantly. If we face any type of opposition or learning curve, it frustrates us. We tend to succumb to that frustration and give up.
Q: How did you select Morehouse College?
A: I like to think that Morehouse picked me. Initially, I knew nothing about Morehouse. I was in high school when I was met by a recruiter. I was a prepared person. I had a bag filled with every document and type of information to readily present to a recruiter in the event the opportunity presented itself.
The recruiter, who was from Morehouse class of 1965, said, “Let me see your information.” After looking at my 4.0 GPA and SAT score, he said, “Young man, you come with me. You’re going to go to Morehouse.”
Though he piqued my interest, I told him, “I don’t have any money. I need to get a full scholarship.”
He said, “Well, we’re going to get you a full scholarship.”
“Ok, well, what is Morehouse?”
“Morehouse is a HBCU, a Historically Black College. It’s a great school. Martin Luther King went there. It’s also an all-boys school.”
At that point, my mind said, “This conversation is over,” but he ended up taking me there. What helped make my decision was hearing and seeing speakers at a Candle in the Dark Gala. I had never seen public speakers speak with such conviction and passion. The way they descriptively colored the topics of discussion was astounding to me. Public speaking being my passion, it resonated with me on a deep level.
Q: What’s your advice on how to get more young people planning for college?
A: To consolidate my advice into one word: initiatives. Be proactive. Resources are allotted to you during your high school matriculation, but whether or not you benefit from those resources is directly contingent upon your willingness to make your needs known. To make your needs known, you have to vocalize what you want and be assertive in the manner. When you make your desires known, the universe conspires in your favor. I was inquisitive, I took initiatives, and I was proactive.
Q: Can you talk about how BDPA has influenced you?
A: BDPA has had a profound influence on my upbringing, my growth, and my development, and it still has a residual influence on me. This conversation happening right now wouldn’t have transpired if it wasn’t for the networks, the opportunities, and the conversations I was able to have by way of BDPA. BDPA has offered me networks, resources, and advisers. My experience with BDPA is invaluable.
Q: Would you like to give a shout out to some of the chapters you’ve participated in?
A: My heart is always with the D.C. chapter. Most recently, the D.C. chapter has gotten first place in the national HSCC. My little brother was the co-captain for the D.C. chapter team. He was on the winning team, and he’s gifted in technology. I’m happy to see him flourish. I obviously have to shout out the Atlanta chapter. It has added so many different and refreshing flavors within BDPA.
Q: How did you make the transition from college life to your first full-time position that you could make an impact in?
A: Taking it back to BDPA, BDPA built in me a “take the extra initiative” work habit. I adopted that same work habit when entering college. Taking a full-time position, I had to have a different mindset. I sought the advice of people who had already been on the path that I was taking. I sought the counsel and made my needs vocal. Those needs were addressed because I was receptive and willing to take information and apply it.
Q: Why are you so passionate about mentoring?
A: I’m passionate about mentorship for a plethora of reasons. I’m a product of mentorship. Mentorship offers reflection, insight, and a mature, seasoned perspective. Knowledge devoid of application is futile. Mentorship allows you to receive knowledge from not only a conceptual, literary perspective, but from a humanistic perspective. It allows you to apply that knowledge in an environment that supports you. Trial and error is essential. If I traveled 2 miles to get to destination x, and I went through trial and error, I then have the power to, through my experiences, tell a pupil to take this path that will cut your distance by half a mile. Mentorship allows you to walk a 1.5 mile journey vs a 2 mile journey.
Q: You’re a young person mentoring young people. Are they more willing to take advice from one of their peers? What do you do when you encounter someone who is resistant?
A: I think resistance is an inextricable component in the mentorship process. Not everybody is receptive to knowledge, and that doesn’t necessarily boil down to a generational gap. I think what I offer, as a younger person, is more relatibility. I have a shorter gap between the experiences they’re currently facing and the place where I’m at. When you’re mentoring someone, you’re leading. Leadership is not about someone following you, but a side-by-side journey in which both individuals are working collaboratively to reach the same end. I’m going to find out where you are, accommodate to that, and fulfill your need.
Q: What core of age group do you feel more comfortable in assisting? What’s your target audience? What’s your favorite topic to speak about?
A: I deal with a lot of young people who are in high school or college, but I feel like mentorship is not confined to age. As a 22 year old, I have information that is relevant to people in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I’ve mentored people that are in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Initially, I would say I’m more comfortable with people in my age range, but naturally we are more comfortable with things that are familiar to us. I’m a proponent of getting outside of that comfort zone. I make it a point to get as uncomfortable as possible because discomfort is a catalyst to growth.
Q: What’s your favorite topic to speak about?
A: I like to discuss shifting the paradigm. A lot of people have the misconception that the deficiencies they have in their life can be directly attributed to the lack of resources. I don’t think it’s the lack of resources, but I think it’s the lack of mindset. I feel like the attitude and the mindset you adopt is the driving force of the rest of your journey. If you get your paradigm right, you can get everything else right.
Q: What types of questions do young people usually ask you?
A: Recurring questions are:
“What are your habits?”
“How do you manage your time?”
“How do you make decisions?”
This is a chaotic period for a lot of people because they’re not purpose-driven. If you don’t do things with intentionality, you’re not going to get the desired result.
Q: What is “guarding your input?”
A: The things you take in are going to affect what you produce. For example, in order to keep your body running right, you have to eat the proper foods and maintain the proper exercise. Life is similar. You have to moderate your input because what you intake is going to affect your thought pattern and your actions. What you intake is an intricate part of the person you become. Guarding your input is also about people. You need people surrounding you who are going to cultivate your dreams and cultivate your innermost desires. You have to make the decision on what you want to expose yourself to.