Alessandro Ramos is 11 and a half, but he already knows what he wants to be when he grows up: a programmer. He’s already started programming. Last year he took Tekkie Uni’s App Development course, and this year he’s taking Robotics.
He’s always been interested in scientific and math-based careers.
“First I wanted to be a scientist, then I wanted to be a civil engineer and now I want to be a programmer” says Alessandro.
Alessandro lives in Orlando, FL. with his parents and 9-year-old younger sister, Annie. The family recently immigrated to the U.S from Venezuela — a big change for them.
“In Venezuela, Alessandro’s dad was an operational manager and we lived comfortably. I could afford to be a happy housewife and stay at home mom” said Alessandro’s mother, Joana Abner. “When we emigrated to the United States four years ago, we had to start from zero.”
Now both parents work, with Joana cleaning houses and schools to support her children’s education and extracurricular activities.
“Everything here is expensive, but I will not allow that to interfere with my son’s studies” she said. “To pay for his course I am working at night and early in the morning to cover that expense. I do it with all my love and I will do it as long as necessary.”
The dream of MIT
Joana’s inspiration for working so hard is Alessandro himself. Even though he’s young, he’s completely devoted to achieving his dream: attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass.
After that, he says, he’d like to become a programmer working in the video game industry. Getting into MIT, however, isn’t easy — academically, or financially.
“I told him that it was the most expensive university in the United States and that to enter, he’d have to be the best so that they could grant him a scholarship, because we don’t have that money,” said Joana.
Alessandro took her words to heart. He’s done well at school, is one of only a few students to make his school’s Robotics team and is a part of his school’s program for gifted children. Taking programming classes with Tekkie Uni is a major part of achieving his college dream.
Exploring programming with Tekkie Uni
Alessandro had been looking for an extracurricular programming course for months when his mother saw an ad for Tekkie Uni on Facebook.
“One night I got on Facebook — I almost never log in — and the first thing I saw was a Tekkie Uni announcement” said Joana. “I called him, he came running, and when we read all the information, we knew it was the course we had been looking for, for so long.”
Alessandro loves gaming, but he’d never taken a programming course before. Joana signed him up for Build Your First App, a beginner’s course, and Alessandro loved it.
“I learned a lot of interesting things; coding and things like that” he said. “My teacher is really good and she inspires me.”
His final project was Space Odyssey, a space-themed math game that combines several of Alessandro’s passions: space, mathematics, and game design.
“My son showed me his projects and the games he created seemed wonderful to me” said Joana.
He also impressed some of the educators at his school. His little sister’s teacher was wowed by Space Odyssey.
“When my third-grade daughter’s teacher saw his math game, she told him he could count on her to promote it to her students” Joana said.
Moving forward with robotics
Alessandro’s success in his app development class last year helped him secure a place on his school’s elite Robotics team. He was one of nine children chosen from 60 applicants who wanted to be on the team.
His studies in Tekkie Uni’s Robotics class this year are helping him contribute to the team; he specifically chose to enroll in robotics so that he could learn more about robots and help his team.
“We want to reach the championships” he said. “I wanted to learn different skills and see if they could help.”
Those skills appear to have helped – his team is headed to a competition this month.
Joana is thrilled that her son has been able to pick up new skills by studying online; she didn’t think he’d have access to these sorts of courses until he was college-aged. Knowing programming at such a young age, she says, will open doors for Alessandro.
“Thank you Tekkie Uni for the opportunity, for the teaching, for helping my son be brighter, more confident and able to give his best every day and for bringing him closer to his dream of going to Massachusetts to become the best programmer” she said.
For his part, Alessandro is happy to be immersed in math and programming.
When asked what he would say to a classmate who might be afraid that coding is too difficult for them to try, he said not to worry — it’s fun.
“You can only learn” he said. “You’re not tested on it and nobody judges you because everybody has their own method of learning.”