I had a friend in 9th grade who I thought was the bee’s knees when it came to anything technical. I’d ask some vague question about recent inventions or coding and he’d answer, narrating the tale of how programming languages were developed or describing the latest tech from Google, for instance. He’d do so with a passion that was contagious. It was from him that I heard of BDPA and the weekend class that taught some of this wondrous programming that he had told me about. I took the leap and signed my Saturday mornings away. I could not have imagined the impact that my experiences in BDPA would have. BDPA defined my future goals and gave me the skills to achieve them.
Even before I had any goals, I always liked computers. Though this was mostly because of the games I played on them as a kid, the science behind how they worked intrigued me. My only goals at the time for this interest were to wait until college, where I knew I could take courses on coding. This remained my mindset and I never took advantage of the wealth of information the internet could have provided, as I didn’t have the drive to take advantage of it. BDPA changed that very quickly. Creating website applications – tangible products of my work – was immensely rewarding. I worked on projects in class on weekends, at home, in school, whenever I could. BDPA transformed my dormant interest into an active passion. My goals became to teach myself more about web development, to take it further in college, and then a career in programming. However, skills are essential to achieving any goal.
BDPA taught me many skills, including the technical skills of web development programming, to using IDEs, CPanel, and database manipulation. Equally if not more important however, are the soft skills that are transferable to any career. These include public speaking, people skills, networking. Developing these made for some of the most memorable experiences. The experiences of preparing many summers with a team of fellow BDPA students for the competition, developing our communication, programming, and teamwork skills, but more importantly, bonding and becoming friends. Some of my favorite memories are sweating over the programming problems each year at the competition, slowly figuring them out, and implementing the solution with my friends.
In 9th grade, I never thought I could have programmed in part a complete web application that created routes for a lawn care company, or a bus routing service, or any of the professional grade problems that we worked on at the national competition. I never would have believed that I would have the focus and passion to be a part of technology and programming so soon, or to realize my childhood interest. Now in college, I find myself trying to keep building on the impact BDPA has had on me, to continue developing the skills and chase the goals I found in that Saturday morning web development class with my friends.