Computers have always fascinated me. This interest started when I was little and evolved into a full-blown passion. I still remember the first day I laid eyes on a computer: I saw people fiddling with Mario Typing. The idea of working with computers hit me like a lightning bolt. I told myself, “This is what I’m going to work with in the future!”
Finding my passion was one thing; turning it into reality was another. I grew up in the developing country of Cambodia. We couldn't afford to buy a computer at the time, so the only way for me to access one was to spend my daily allowance at a computer center. While my peers burned money on electronic games, I spent my little pocket money to learn software and other useful skills. I learned proper typing and word processing. Sometimes, I tinkered with the computer's operating system. I also tried my hand at programming.
Thankfully, my efforts didn't go unnoticed. The owner of the place saw my eagerness to learn. He was kind enough to allow me to install whatever software I wanted onto the units I used. How I wished he had also given me special discounts back then!
Finances weren't the only hurdle I needed to deal with, though. In my country, the lack of fluency in written and spoken English was a big barrier for anyone who wanted to learn computer skills. Books and documents in the Cambodian language were generally scarce. Most of the ones in circulation were very basic and not particularly helpful for long-term studies. I consider myself lucky enough to have attended English classes; these enabled me to teach myself computer skills by poring over books and listening to CD tutorials. I normally used up my savings to buy software CDs, especially those with sample programming source codes. I also wrote some basic software, which unfortunately included the worst racing game that my friends ever played.
It was not until I started working for a friend’s Internet Cafe that I wrote more useful applications. As its computer technician, I helped customers with their internet and tech-related issues. Working there provided me with free internet access, so I spent my spare time scouring it for lessons I could learn and apply to my job. I seized the opportunity to improve my computer skills and amass experience, especially in the area of programming. It acted as my virtual library for all my programming lessons and computer maintenance information needs. It also provided forums where I could post any questions I had.
As a result, I was able to write advanced management software for the internet cafe. It generated reports, calculated the time that a customer spent surfing the internet, tracked their printing jobs and prevented them from running certain programs. Writing it greatly enhanced my programming skills, but the joy of actually producing my first program only strengthened my love for the art.
When I started my second job at a logistic company, my routine included doing shipping-related paperwork and inputting data. It didn't take me long to realize that most of the routines I did could be easily automated. I then wrote software that automated the tasks that kept most employees at the office till the late evening hours. This earned me a promotion. I was overjoyed at the fact that I created a useful, practical and stress-reducing tool for everyone in the company.
I have always applied my talent to whatever conditions I found myself in, including my choice of major: computer science. I do it because I am passionate about it and skillful at using it.
Prompt2: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
I come from a low-income family in a developing country. The genocide in Cambodia has purged knowledge and culture from its people, leaving most of them ignorant. My parents only possess a minimal educational background; they have had to work for most of their lives.
When I first arrived in the United States, I didn't really think much about higher education. I only wanted to find a suitable job and earn money to support my family.
However, I soon learned about the GED course. I was told it would significantly increase my chances of attaining a higher educational level and landing a better job. I was initially indifferent when I registered for the prep class at an adult school, yet my interest in it grew and I found myself doing well in the course. After six months of intense study, I surprised my instructor by passing the test and earning a ticket to a better life.
The certificate landed me my first job in the US as a QC clerk at a small chocolate bar manufacturing company. My job description included checking incoming ingredients and doing paperwork for production. I didn't really like it very much since it wasn't exactly within my field of interest or specialization. Nevertheless, I needed the money to support myself and my family. Besides, I believe that if you're paid for something, you may as well do it to the best of your ability. I gave it my best effort despite what I felt about it. Thankfully, my manager rewarded me for my hard work and sense of responsibility by promoting me to the QC lead position.
I can't fully emphasize how getting the GED significantly changed my life. It motivated me to become a college student while holding down a full-time job. Although none of my family members had attended college, it didn't discourage me from excelling. In fact, my background gave me the will to overcome all the obstacles I faced. I took it as a serious responsibility to bring honor to my family, to thank them for their support and to make them proud.
I'm a hardworking and talented individual at heart. My college experience only fueled my hunger for higher education, so that's what I will pursue. It is my intention to avoid committing the worst possible crime: that of not realizing my fullest potential.