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August 10, 2014, Jacqueline and Dave of Technology Expresso Online Radio Program interviewed the 2014 BDPA High School National Computer Competition Winners Alex Li, Jonathan Legrant, Lauren Battle and Zion Emmanuel, along with HSCC Coordinator Michael Wood. Here is the transcript of the interviews:
Interview with Alex Li
Jacqueline: I’m Jacqueline Sanders of Technology Expresso. I’m here live at the 2014 BDPA conference in Indianapolis, and I’m with the HSCC, the High School Computer Competition, champion from Washington, D.C. Can you tell the audience your name, age and school?
Alex: My name is Alex Li, and I’m 17 years old. I go to Folsom High School.
Jacqueline: Alex, I hear you’re the team captain for the winning team of Washington D.C. Can you tell us who your other teammates are?
Alex: My teammates are Jonathan Legrant, Zion Emmanuel, Lauren Battle and Beleicia Bullock.
Jacqueline: Awesome. Can you tell the audience what type of training and preparation you all went through leading up to the competition?
Alex: We started programming and training in early January. We started coding and started learning about how to manipulate database and languages.
Jacqueline: How did you hear about BDPA and the HSCC?
Alex: I heard about BDPA primarily from my mom. She is one of the coordinators of the Washington D.C. Chapter. They told her about it, and she told me about it.
Jacqueline: How long have you been in the HSCC Program?
Alex: I’ve been in it since I was in 8th grade, and this is my 5th year being in the program.
Jacqueline: There must have been something that kept you coming back. Can you tell us 2 or 3 things you really like about the program?
Alex: I like the camaraderie we have between the team members. It’s nice to get to know each other, work together and prepare together. How we meet people and work towards a common goal is motivating.
Jacqueline: How many conferences have you been to?
Alex: I’ve been to 4 conferences.
Jacqueline: Can you share with us some of the places you’ve been to?
Alex: Chicago was probably the farthest place I’ve been to. Of course, I’ve been to Indiana. I’ve also been to Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Jacqueline: What advice would you give to other children who may have heard of BDPA but are reluctant to go to HSCC?
Alex: I’ll tell them to give it a try. It’s not that bad. It gives you opportunities to explore things relating to the STEM field you may not have heard about before.
Jacqueline: What are some of the key things you’ve learned that may impact some of your decisions in the future?
Alex: This has definitely impacted my major in college. I’m going to the University of Maryland this Fall, and I’ll be studying engineering. Initially, when I was in 8th grade and first starting BDPA and HSCC, I wasn’t sure what I would major in. When I first joined, HSCC directed and guided me towards the STEM fields. I really got interested in STEM through this program and process.
Jacqueline: Awesome. Congratulations, we’re very proud of you. We look forward to hearing about all of the innovative things you do in the future.
Alex: Thank you.
Interview with Jonathan Legrant
Dave: Dave Blackman, here. I’m at the 36th Annual BDPA National Technology Conference and Career Fair. I am here with one of the members of the winning team and a recipient of the top-award for this 36th year of BDPA’S HSCC. Can you state your name, the school you go to and the chapter you represent?
Jonathan: My name is Jonathan Legrant. I am a part of the BDPA HSCC D.C. Chapter. I go to Arsenal High Science and Tech.
Dave: Congratulations on winning the award. What did your team win?
Jonathan: We won a $2,000 Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship, and we also won a HP Notebook Laptop.
Dave: What was the challenge?
Jonathan: The challenge was to create a website where you can request rides online. Basically, you can order your own chauffeur to drive you around. We created the routes, gave you the nearest chauffeurs and things of that nature.
Dave: Wow, that’s pretty complex. What do you enjoy most about this competition and about the HSCC Program as a whole?
Jonathan: It’s interesting. You’re creating something from nothing. When you’re creating a website, all you need is a computer, which almost everybody has access to these days. It’s pretty fun and intense.
Dave: How many years have you been a part of the program?
Jonathan: This is my 2nd year. Last year I was in the Youth and Technology Camp, and this year I made it to the High School Computer Competition.
Dave: That’s great. The YTC Program is another service that BDPA holds for children. What did you like most about this conference?
Jonathan: I was on the team. This was pretty fun. We stayed in a nice hotel, and there were a lot of sites.
Dave: You mentioned that this is your 2nd year with the BDPA family. What did you learn about yourself this past year?
Jonathan: I learned that I’m really interested in technology. There’s so much stuff that goes behind the computers and smart-phones we see. Once you get behind it, it’s pretty cool and interesting. I learned what and how I want to be in the IT field.
Dave: What advice would you give to other children that may ask you what you’re doing or just ask you a question in general?
Jonathan: I would tell them to join the program. It’s a pretty good lifestyle, and it opens you up to so many opportunities. HSCC is unbelievable.
Dave: When you consider your time with the YTC and this past year in the HSCC, how do you think that impacts your future?
Jonathan: I’ve learned so many things with my time at the YTC and the HSCC that it’s hard to narrow it down, but I narrow it down to the whole technology and IT field.
Dave: There’s a lot to do in this field. I’m sure you will find your niche. Congratulations, once again.
Jonathan: Thank you.
Interview with Lauren Battle
Jacqueline: Next I’m going to talk to Lauren. Lauren, can you share with us your age and what school you go to?
Lauren: I’m 14 and I’m actually home-schooled.
Jacqueline: Can you tell us how you heard about HSCC?
Lauren: My mom showed me a poster one day. I don’t know where she had gotten it from, but she asked me if I wanted to try it. I said, “Ok,” because I didn’t really have anything to lose – except for my Saturdays.
Jacqueline: When you first went to HSCC, what was your reaction? Had you even thought or heard about STEM?
Lauren: I knew about STEM because my mom is the STEM coordinator for one of our church ministries. I really like science, technology, engineering and math. Well, I don’t really like math, but you have to do it in order to do the other subjects.
Jacqueline: How long have you been in HSCC?
Lauren: This is actually my 1st year.
Jacqueline: Wow, and you’re a champion within your 1st year. When they announced your name, were you expecting to be called #1?
Jacqueline: Can you tell the audience what you won?
Lauren: I won a glass plaque, $2000 in scholarship money and a HP Notebook.
Jacqueline: What are the top 2 or 3 things that you like about the HSCC Program?
Lauren: I enjoy being around the people who are in my class. Even as the class got smaller and smaller as we went through the competition, I met a lot of friends. I also liked learning about things I knew nothing about before I started the program. I’m happy that I had an opportunity to learn that information, and now I’m starting my own blog website that I made myself.
Jacqueline: You were inspired to create your own website. That’s exciting. If you were talking to other children who may have heard about HSCC but don’t know what it is, how would you describe it?
Lauren: It’s a really good experience. You get to code and meet awesome people, but it is hard. As the time goes on and you have to start working on your project, sometimes people will fall out from under you and you have to do a project by yourself. That can get hard. You have to really work on it.
Jacqueline: Absolutely. When the competition takes place, you all are closed in a room for about 8 hours. It’s just you and your teammates. How did it feel being in the competition for your 1st time?
Lauren: In the beginning, I was scared. I kind of knew what to expect because we did a test run at regionals, but it was different. After awhile I got used to it.
Jacqueline: How do you think this experience will change your future?
Lauren: Well, it was the first time I’ve been in an airplane and out of the east coast without my parents. I set a milestone in my life, and I can go forward from there.
Jacqueline: Awesome. We wish you the best of luck. We look forward to seeing your future success. Continue to be innovative. It was a pleasure interviewing you. Thanks for being a part of BDPA.
Lauren: Thank you.
Interview with Zion Emmanuel:
Dave: I am here with one of the winners of the High School Computer Competition from the D.C. Chapter. Can you tell us your name, what school you go to and how old you are?
Zion: My name is Zion Emmanuel. I go to The Academy of Tech Scientists, and I am 15 years old.
Dave: Congratulations on your accomplishment. What did you win, Zion?
Zion: I won a HP Laptop, $2,000 in scholarship money and a trophy.
Dave: How did you hear about the High School Computer Competition?
Zion: My friend Steven introduced me to it. He saw me coding for fun on my computer, and he felt that I would be interested in other programming. That’s how I first heard about it.
Dave: Wow, you were doing coding even before you got into the competition. What do you like most about coding?
Zion: I guess I enjoy picking out new things, new ways to code, like java script, and new languages. It’s like a door to something new. You branch out and specialize in whichever you like the best.
Dave: What did you enjoy the most about the competition?
Zion: What I enjoyed the most was working together with my teammates and trying to find the solution the problem. I enjoy problem-solving, working together and using our brains to find the perfect solution in the quickest way possible. Working with my teammates was the best experience.
Dave: That’s great. How long have you been a part of the competition?
Zion: This is actually my 1st year here.
Dave: That’s pretty good. You come home with the gold medal on your first year. What advice would you give to your friends about joining the competition in your age group?
Zion: If you enjoy coding like I do, I would say you have to keep trying. No matter what, you will always get some type of error code. Everything will not go as well as planned. You have to keep trying and keep going, and eventually you will find the right path.
Dave: That’s a great outlook. What type of impact do you think that having participated in this will have on your future?
Zion: It will have a very good impact. It might actually decide the career I want to be in. Ever since joining this program, I’ve been considering majoring in computer science. I already have some scholarship money to go towards it.
Dave: Over the past year, what have you learned about yourself?
Zion: I’ve learned that I’m determined to find the end-goal. Before, if it didn’t come up the first time I tried it, I would give up. I realized that I’m determined. I really want to go through this to find the right path.
Dave: Again, I congratulate you on winning, and good luck to you in the future.
Zion: Thank you.
Interview with Michael Wood:
Jacqueline: I’m talking to one of the HSCC Coordinators. Can you introduce yourself and tell us your age and what school you go to?
Michael: My name is Michael Wood, I’m 19 and I go to BG Community College.
Jacqueline: You’re now a coordinator, but you were originally a student. Can you tell us when you first found out about HSCC?
Michael: I found out about HSCC when I was in 8th grade. My brother told me about it and wanted me to try it out.
Jacqueline: Can you tell us some of the things you experienced as a student?
Michael: As a student, we had to do multiple problems, and we had to solve them.
Jacqueline: Did you attend other championships when you were a student?
Jacqueline: What states did you get to visit?
Michael: North Carolina, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
Jacqueline: What is the difference between being a student and being a coordinator?
Michael: As a coordinator, I have to put more effort into teaching more students.
Jacqueline: How many students did you have in the program?
Michael: In the beginning we had about 25, and in the end we had 5.
Jacqueline: What type of things did you teach?
Michael: We taught HTML, DSN and other information about coding and programming.
Jacqueline: You all brought 4 students to the competition. Can you tell our audience, again, the names of the students who were on the team?
Michael: The students were Beleicia Bullock, Alex Li, Jonathan Legrant, Zion Emmanuel and Lauren Battle.
Jacqueline: The coordinators aren’t allowed to go in the room with the students. The students go into a room. They’re given problems they have to solve, and they have to do it by themselves. They’re scored. Then, we come to the banquet, and that’s when we find out who the winners are. Did you think your team’s name would be called 1st, or was that a complete surprise?
Michael: I’m not going to lie, I was surprised.
Jacqueline: We’re happy for you all. We know you put in a lot of hard work. You coordinators put in a lot of dedication. Congratulations, and thank you, after being a student, for coming back as a coordinator.
Michael: Thank you.