In 2017, 15-year-old Tre Germany told the world exactly what he thought about The Hidden Genius Project as he was completing his second summer in our Intensive Immersion Program — “My favorite part of the program is the fact that it offers a different narrative, a different profession, a different career choice instead of athletics which has been a very pushed stereotype upon the black community.” (Watch the full video HERE.)
Now 17 years old, and a senior at Met West High School in Oakland, Tre Germany, OAK4 Hidden Genius Alum and Youth Educator, shares with us his aspirations.
What was your experience in the program like?
The first summer was a big adjustment period for me as I was the youngest Genius in my cohort. But after a few weeks, all of my brothers and myself grew closer together to the point where we created several inside jokes which was always entertaining.
Also, the business trips were pretty inspiring. There were so many opportunities where I saw myself in technology. All of the tech professionals that I met on these trips were very encouraging on how I could get into the tech industry — they were telling me that I can do it.
One of the things that I enjoyed during programming was the entrepreneurship lessons. I had always pictured myself as a CEO of a large company and giving back. This part of the program helped me visualize how I would go about achieving this goal.
How is The Hidden Genius Project different than other mentorship or training experiences that you have been involved in?
It’s different because they consistently show genuine love to every student in the program, including the alumni. All of The Hidden Genius Project staff are very adaptable to each student’s needs when it comes to supporting their various interests and passions. I remember in my cohort how some Geniuses weren’t interested in the technology part of the curriculum, but loved learning about entrepreneurship and leadership.
What specific skills learned in The Hidden Genius Project have been most beneficial for you?
I’ve learned several coding skills in the program that have definitely helped me with my personal and professional growth. However, I would say that patience and problem-solving were probably the most challenging, but essential skills for me to learn and practice, especially when it comes to coding. Writing programming languages requires a lot of debugging and troubleshooting, which could take five minutes or five days to problem solve and find the error. There were times when I would get frustrated trying to fix the bug, but with the program’s guidance, they showed me how to be patient when solving these issues.
Another skill I developed was not being afraid to ask for help when I’m stuck. I normally avoid asking for support because I like to figure things out on my own, but sometimes it could be to my demise where I fall behind and skip steps that were important building blocks for the future. Eventually, I ended up learning that it’s completely normal to ask for guidance.
What was the most important thing you gained on a personal level (development, relationship, community, etc.) from participating in The Hidden Genius Project?
Before joining the Intensive Immersion Program, I had no experience in coding and now I love it. So I can say the biggest thing I’ve gained is my passion for computer science and technology. Also, my relationship with The Hidden Genius Project staff is real, as they have created a loving and supportive environment that has helped me grow and find my path in life.
When you imagine yourself before starting The Hidden Genius Project, what’s different between that version of you and the current version?
Before joining The Hidden Genius Project I was very talkative and stubborn. But throughout my time in the program and even after, I’ve learned to be less stubborn and channel my ability to talk into public speaking opportunities. I’ve presented at the 2018 End of Summer Celebration, Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, and Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education.
Overall The Hidden Genius Project really formed a clear vision for myself, where I want to pursue a career in the STEM [Science Technology, Engineering and Math] field, particularly in computer science. There are so many career opportunities in technology that I can literally see myself in this field. And after my experience in the Kaiser Permanente KP Launch Program, I’m set on becoming a back-end software engineer.
In what ways have you remained involved with The Hidden Genius Project since completing the 15-month Intensive Immersion program?
Besides being a Hidden Genius Alum Youth Educator supporting community events and workshops, I had the opportunity to intern for the Kaiser Permanente KP Launch Program in the summer of 2018 through The Hidden Genius Project.
That summer, I worked in Kaiser Permanente’s Internet of Things (IoT) department for 8 weeks in Pleasanton, CA. This was my first time working in corporate America, especially in a technology department. During my internship, I was assigned a project to create an attendance program utilizing their employee ID badges for all of the staff meetings in the department as it was an ongoing issue for them.
For the first two weeks, I had to research and learn how to use the coding language of Python to create the attendance program. After several weeks of writing code, debugging errors, and beta testing, I was able to present the final version of the program to the entire team. Watch the video of Tre’s presentation HERE.
My experience at KP Launch was an amazing opportunity to learn how to work in a corporate environment, learn a new coding language, and build up my professional skills through interview training, resume writing, and teamwork. This internship convinced me that I wanted to be a software engineer.
I also helped support The Hidden Genius Project as a Youth Educator. In May 2019 I had the opportunity to attend PyCon in Cleveland with my brothers (Fellow Hidden Genius Alumni Nyjel Todd (OAK4 Hidden Genius Alum), Kevin Butler (OAK4 Hidden Genius Alum), and Zebreon Wallace (OAK2 Hidden Genius Alum). We facilitated a Young Coders Workshop for 20 local students from Garrett Morgan High School. I definitely enjoyed the experience because as the students were learning more about coding through this activity in Minecraft, you could see them understand the program as the light bulb would light up in their eyes. Then all of a sudden they take off and start programming away.
Do you have any advice for future Geniuses?
First off, complete your assignments because The Hidden Genius Project literally tries to pay you for them. Also, the more you do in the program, the more you will grow, as it will better prepare you for what’s next. The staff at The Hidden Genius Project come from all walks of life and have the simple goal of trying to help you succeed. Be authentic and true to yourself about what you want for your future.