For Donovan Nutting, OAK3 Hidden Genius Alum, it’s no surprise to him as to why he chose to major in Computer Science as a freshman at UC Santa Cruz this year. He credits The Hidden Genius Project for exposing him and his twin brother, Devon Nutting – OAK3 Hidden Genius Alum, to computer science education. “I don’t think I ever would’ve gotten into technology like I am today without The Hidden Genius Project. If I didn’t have The Hidden Genius Project I wouldn’t be majoring in computer science.” 

In addition to learning how to code and various computer science languages, the Intensive Immersion Program opened his eyes to how he could make a difference in his community “I realized it was more than just technology, we also learned about entrepreneurship and leadership too. One of the most surprising things that I appreciate the most during the leadership sessions is understanding the context of what we’re learning in the world with all of the social issues going on and it gets us thinking of why we’re here and how we can help.” 

And he wasted no time getting started in giving back and paying it forward. For the last two years, Donovan has been a Youth Educator, where he acts as a brand ambassador for The Hidden Genius Project and facilitates tech workshops from school-age youth to senior citizens throughout the Bay Area. “Learning how to spread that knowledge is the biggest thing, and that’s what The Hidden Genius Project is all about. They go out and do that,” Donovan explains.

The desire for Donovan to give back is evident. Last month Donovan was offered the opportunity to teach students overseas at our International Programming. While the timing would mean he would miss out on a full week of school – just two weeks into the beginning of his freshman year – he jumped at the chance to help out.

Donovan played a key role on The Hidden Genius Project’s team of Youth Educators, sharing his passion for computer science and technology with students in the UK. Throughout his week of connecting, teaching, and learning from more than 300 young people in London, Donovan recalls how the issues they are facing mirror to what he’s experiencing in his hometown of Oakland. He explains how “We’re all more similar than what we realize. A lot of the problems we experience in Oakland is in all of the worlds. A lot of people lack the opportunities they deserve but they don’t have access. 

As he looks to the future, Donovan expresses his excitement for flexing his own entrepreneurial skills with his brother Devon. They plan to start their own social impact organization with the goal of creating more access and opportunities for youth of color to get into technology. “The biggest thing for me realizing that I can make a difference in my community.” 

Always looking for ways to impart what he’s learned, Donovan offers the following advice to young brothers that aspire to join the program: “Pay attention. If you’re coming into the program get ready to work. Recognize what the opportunity is in front of you and you need to seize it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Since 2012, more than 5,900 students have revealed their genius through our
Intensive Immersion and Catalyst Programs, and so many more are waiting to shine.


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