The most influential experience I have had so far with the BDPA was the High School Computer Competition season of 2016. The regional and national levels of the High School Computer Competitions (HSCC) took place in June and August of 2016. The HSCC is a web development competition hosted by the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), and it involves teams of students from around the country. Of the seven students on the Atlanta team, only two were champions from the prior season. The rest of us were rookies to the program. Consequently, we had a ton of studying to do over the four months from March until the regional competition in June.
My team and I needed to internalize web development, computer theory, and history, all while working on our presentation and public speaking skills, so we met every Saturday for approximately four hours. We studied the various programming languages and theories that we would apply, including PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor), HTML (HyperText Markup Language), and SQL (Structured Query Language). With the help and guidance of several dedicated mentors and instructors, we learned everything we needed to know and more.
By June our team was ready for its first competition of the season, the regionals in Raleigh, NC This competition was to determine which Southern teams would continue to compete in the nationals. The competition consisted of a multiple-choice test on computer theory and history, which was eye-opening to our dire need of more practice, and a web development component. The coding section entailed four hours of programming with one laptop, no Wi-Fi, and a prompt detailing the requirements. After those tiring hours of designing and coding, we presented a website with an expansive range of functions, but barely any visual appeal due to time constraints. However, the application’s functional nature, in addition to our presentation, brought the season’s first victory home to Atlanta.
Following our encouraging win in June, the rest of the summer was spent diligently preparing for August’s week-long conference and national competition. Being the GA team meant we were defending our title as the reigning champions on our own turf. I am proud to say that my teammates and I brought Atlanta its second consecutive national victory. Over 30 teams were present from across the country. Rather than four hours, this contest required each team to huddle around two laptops for eight hours straight. The moment the BDPA president said that the first place team “should feel right at home in Atlanta,” I realized we had won. I felt a sensation of extreme joy and pride in myself and my teammates. There are no words to describe my ecstasy as we received our trophies on the stage. This experience was instrumental in my journey from childhood to adulthood because it built my confidence in myself and my ability to lead.