HSCC Alumni, Krystal Cooper
I began my participation in the BDPA HSCC as a freshman in High School. I started programming at age 6 and if they had a BDPA competition for elementary schools I'm sure my mother would have enrolled me in it then.
It was an amazing experience to be so young (about 13) and being trained as professional computer programmer at the Digital Equipment Corporation. Our training curriculum was intense but we were taught a wealth of computer history that is still with me today.
We were given real world experience by being taught the same technologies and languages being used by DEC employees. I'm pretty sure I was one of the few teenage girls that had a professional computing resume by the time I graduated high school.
Besides increasing my technical skill set, it also taught me how to work under pressure while being part of a team and how to present technical ideas to a large group. My participation in the program was instrumental to my future professional development in the field of computer science.
The competition experience was phenomenal. The BDPA convention was held in NY and Detroit and these were my first big trips away from home without my family. I was one of the few kids and the only girl on my block growing up with a computer at home.
The HSCC changed all of that, in NYC and Detroit I found myself at a convention with hundreds of other Black teenagers my age who held the same interests as I did (computers, programming and video games). It was a very inspiring to see so many successful Black men and women doing exactly what I wanted to do in the future.
My experience in the HSCC helped me focus on my future career aspirations and academic goals. It definitely prepared me for my entrance into the University of California, Riverside as a computer science major and subsequent computational research at Jackson State and Elizabeth City State Universities.
Our BDPA mentors taught us the important role technology played in our communities but also gave us a global perspective on computing as a whole. It made a lasting impression on me and as a professional I have made a lifelong commitment to bridging the digital divide.
Since then I have given back to BDPA as a convention planning member and HSCC supporter to show my appreciation to those who made a commitment to my technical education..
I encourage all HSCC alums to do the same and give back by sharing their experience with the next generation of technology leaders.