July 10, 2012

Good News Tuesday: Justin Wulf (BDPA Twin Cities)

Justin Wulf is a long-time BDPA Twin Cities chapter member with a powerful legacy in the organization's Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES) program. He is working towards his computer science degree at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Justin used his STEM experiences gained through BDPA to obtain an ongoing internship at Medtronic. Justin competed in national High School Computer Competition (HSCC) championships from 2007-2010. He earned a Jesse Bemley Scholarship from the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) as a result of high performance in the 2009 HSCC championship.

He recently shared the following testimonial with us:

"I have been a member of the BDPA Twin Cities Chapter since 2005. At the time, I was only 13 years old and hardly knew anything about computers beyond using them to install video games, surf the Internet and type papers. My first couple years of being in the Summer BDPA Youth Technology Camp (YTC) were spent familiarizing myself with the hardware of an actual computer. It was the first time I ever took apart a working computer and put it back together in its functional state. I had also learned a bit about operating systems, computer networking and what really made computers tick. I felt like I knew everything I needed to know about computers after those first two summers in YTC, but when I entered high school, I learned that I was completely wrong.

Upon entering 9th grade, I was encouraged to continue attending BDPA classes throughout the year and was eventually offered a spot on the 2007 BDPA HSCC Team. I was introduced to the wonderful world of web development and computer programming. My curiosity and determination assisted me with understanding HTML and CSS languages used for designing websites. In addition to web design, our instructor Mark Holden taught us object-oriented programming in Visual Basic for more application-based programs. I had a little more trouble with making sense of object-oriented programming as it was complex and still so new to me. Something amazing happened to me that year. There was one moment in particular that I, as well as everyone else in the room, will always remember, is when computer programming all “clicked” for me. It was a Saturday afternoon, the classroom was silent, Mark was teaching us some confusing string concatenation techniques, and all of a sudden, my eyes widened, I sat completely straight up in my chair and I shouted, “I get it!” The other students on the team turned to me and smiled, along with Mark giving me a hardy chuckle and congratulating me. I will always thank back and remember that “click” every time I learn a new concept that I’ve been working hard at understanding.

From that point on, I was given the opportunity to compete in four National BDPA High School Computer Competition championships; Washington, D.C. in 2007, Atlanta, GA in 2008, Raleigh, NC in 2009 and Philadelphia, PA in 2010.

My most memorable year was in 2009 when our chapter rented a 15-passenger van and drove to Raleigh, North Carolina for the National BDPA Conference. Everyone on the team was focused and prepared to finally place top five in the High School Computer Competition. We anxiously waited for our names to be called in the award ceremony. We all held hands around our banquet table with our coordinators keeping their fingers crossed. Surprisingly, our chapter was called for 4th place and we all jumped and screamed simultaneously as if we all received the same electric shock in our circuit of linked limbs. It was a truly, inspiring year for me. It gave me the feeling that anything can be obtainable if you really put your mind to it.

My ambitious state of mind continued to develop over the years. Here I am now, a second year college student at Bethel University pursuing a Computer Science degree with a minor in Psychology. I have also acquired an internship at Medtronic, Inc., a Fortune 500 company and world leader in medical technology and pioneering therapies. In the span of about two years, I have worked closely with three different teams in Information Technology. BDPA has helped me reach new plateaus and opportunities from the experiences and lessons I’ve learned. I have decided to give back to the BDPA community by teaching students how to computer program in Java, C#, MySQL and ASP.NET and by training this year’s BDPA Twin Cities HSCC Team.

BDPA is doing a wonderful job in providing STEM experiences to hundreds of K-12 students.  Please click here to show your support for these efforts!   Also, take a moment to POST A COMMENT for Justin!  You can follow Justin on Twitter -- @JustWulf

This blog will continue to seek out Good News stories about people of African descent and share them with you each Tuesday. We need to tell the positive and upbeat information about OURstory. We can't depend on others to do it for us. Please pass along any Good News story that comes your way. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to join our Good News parade every Tuesday.

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