I wasn’t always interested in computer science. But by happenstance and a lot of curiosity, I stumbled my way into something that forever changed my trajectory in life.
Once upon a time, I thought that being a lawyer was the coolest thing I could ever do. I loved watching law & order and seeing lawyers defend clients in court. I had it in my mind that if only I could be and do that for others, I could really make an impact in the world.
Of course, part of my early interest in law stemmed from me coming from an African family, where it is custom to hear that you can only choose from one of three professions; a lawyer, a doctor, or a professor .
Then one day, as part of a class assignment, I had the opportunity to shadow a local lawyer in town. That shadowing experience was widely different than what I’d seen on TV. Instead of arguing in court for people’s rights, as I had assumed was every lawyer’s day-to-day, the lawyer I had the opportunity to shadow spent most of his day reading through legal paperwork and briefs.
It was in that experience that I realized, while I was excited to be where the action was, I would hate the day-to-days of being a lawyer.
From that day I had it in the back of my mind that being a lawyer was not for me. So I subconsciously began keeping an eye out for the next thing I was passionate about.
Throughout high school, I’d also been a gamer. I loved jailbreaking and writing little scripts to modify my gaming stations to get and play the latest new releases for free (when you know, you know :D. Little did I know that’s how most programmers got their start)
So going into senior year, when I saw there was a computer science elective I thought to myself, why not? Again, I could have gotten out of school early but I decided to let my curiosity and my gut lead me.
In the beginning, I struggled to grasp the concepts of Java, often working with classmates much more experienced than me in order to pick their brains.
But as the class went on, I fell in love with the instant gratification of writing a program and seeing it work immediately. Over time, I learned that all code is, is just inputs and outputs. What you put in and what you expect out.
I say that I found Computer Science by accident because the whole thing was so unexpected for me. I didn’t know, going in, I would enjoy it and enjoy building things from code so much. Sure, I “hacked” games but never in my wildest dreams did I assume it would land me here…I was just a middle-class kid trying to play video games I couldn’t afford.
This class forever changed my trajectory because after that I knew I wanted to pursue computer science in college. So I enrolled in Ohio State as a pre-computer science major and the rest was history.
Because of my personal experience I have and always will be an advocate for introducing high school students to STEM programs early on, where it could really positively change their lives.