“I first gained an interest in CompSci in middle school due to a combination of gaming, and attempting to mod my computer’s [operating system] in ways that I had no business doing,” White said.
It was later peaked while White was at Mission Valley, when he did an IEP project in his SEEK class involving programming in the relatively primitive programming language BASIC. White was so interested that he decided he wanted to take programming classes at East. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, he was unable to enroll until his sophomore year.
“Really this was lucky, since the class that we had that year was very awesome. We had a huge mix of people, most of whom were very interested in [computer science],” White said.
Luckily one of those people in was Cecil, who would later be the one to inform White of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Cecil began his programming career in a similar way to White: as an IEP project for his Enhanced Learning class in elementary school, learning on the center’s Apple II’s. Throughout elementary and middle school Cecil’s parents bought him various programming books, but he says that his skills in the area didn’t take off until his high school classes.
In high school the two became very involved in programming. Beyond their programming classes both White and Cecil participated as programmers for the robotics team. They also participated in regional and national programming competitions, with their team including senior Patrick McGannon taking first at the 2010 Kansas State University Advanced High School Programming Competition.
Cecil found out about New Mexico Tech last year during the annual College Clinic and told several of his programming classmates. White was immediately interested.
“I believe the particular fact that stood out to us the most was that [New Mexico Tech] regularly beat Caltech in programming competitions,” White said.
Both Cecil and White visited later in the year, when in both cases it shot to the top of their college lists.
“Upon visiting, I found that I really loved the size of the school, and how close the students were to the faculty,” Cecil said. “It just seemed like the place that I would like—people who study things because it’s their passion.”
New Mexico Tech is a New Mexico state university and therefore had a fairly straightforward and simple application process with White and Cecil submitting just a transcript, standardized test scores and a senior course listing. No essays, no teachers’ letters of recommendation. All-in-all the application took them about five minutes.
As for future career plans, White and Cecil are both open to just about any job, granted that it’s in the field of programming.
“The way I see it, all that is important to me is that whatever I do, it helps people,” Cecil said. “As long as I’m using my skills and helping people at the same time, I’m going to be pretty happy.”
With a roughly 2000 students enrolled, New Mexico Tech is a relatively small research university focused on science and engineering, and in terms of size New Mexico Tech won’t be a huge adjustment from East.