For the past four years (2012-2015), I spent most of my Saturdays at BDPA talking with friends, checking my rank, and learning new things. Before BDPA I didn’t know anything about computers or programming, much less did I have any interest in learning. However, my instructors made what I was learning exciting. They taught me things and then encouraged me to go out and learn more. What was most thrilling for me was being able to create something. Seeing my code transform into a web page was just so incredible.
Being selected to go to the National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) after class was done was probably one of the most rewarding things. After all who wouldn’t like to go to big cities and meet new and important people? But, when I became a part of the competition team I remember all the work we put in. We refer to the summer before competition as “boot camp”. So while all my friends were out enjoying summer, I was sitting with my BDPA friends staring at a computer screen. But I guess, it was always worth it in the end. It’s a good feeling going through the competition and knowing all your hard work was paying off. But no amount of preparation takes away the nerves and angst during the programming portion. They give you seven hours but it feels like less than one. I think we all learned to thrive under the stressful conditions. We knew our part in the team and held ourselves accountable. No matter the outcome, it was always a great experience: either something to learn from or something to remember.
The people in BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter did more than just teach me computer programming, they taught me to believe in myself (sometimes that was the biggest obstacle), they taught me to carry myself with dignity and pride, and to be thankful for everything I have. Over the past four years, BDPA has had a major impact on the person I have become, they remind me to give back selflessly and help others around me.