In the beginning, Ezra Tramble (Oakland Cohort 7 Hidden Genius Alum) wasn’t too enthused about participating in our Immersion Program. He explains, “When I first heard about The Hidden Genius Project I didn’t want to join.” After learning about our program benefits from a close friend, Ezra seized the opportunity and developed a thirst for studying the fundamentals of computer science, problem-solving techniques, and empowering others, which earned him the “Best App Award” at our 9th Annual End of Summer Celebration in 2020. Ezra, a class of 2023 graduate, is now primed to pursue his passion for technology as an Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences major at the University of California Berkeley.
How have you been?
I am happy as I just completed my senior year at Castro Valley High School with a 4.3 GPA. Lately, I’ve been spending most of my time going out with my friends and to the gym before my summer ends.
How did you first learn about The Hidden Genius Project?
My best friend Timothy Richardson (OAK6 Hidden Genius Alum) told my family about the program and I joined the cohort after him. To be honest, when I first heard about The Hidden Genius Project I didn’t want to join, but Tim’s parents talked my parents into the program. After learning more, I became excited about the things Tim told me about the cohort environment, stipend opportunities, and coding knowledge.
What was your experience in the Intensive Immersion Program like?
During my time in the program, I had a unique experience as half of it occurred during the pandemic. Despite the challenges of the virtual environment, the program still had the camaraderie of a brotherhood and I enjoyed it immensely. One aspect that stood out for me was discovering my passion for coding. The Hidden Genius Project provided me with the opportunity to learn how to code, and I found it to be an awesome experience because being constantly introduced to new concepts, solving problems, and building applications fueled my passion.
Before going virtual, one of my main highlights in the program was the opportunity to go on business trips to companies such as Salesforce and Meta (formerly Facebook). These trips had a significant impact on me because they provided me with real-world context about the skills and knowledge I was acquiring in the program. Visiting Meta gave me an inside look at the company culture, the scale of its operations, and the diverse range of projects they work on. It was inspiring to see how a company like Meta functions. Also, being exposed to companies that aligned with my interests helped shape my career goals.
Overall, the program was a positive experience because I was being paid for my participation and I always learned new things.
I centered my project around blockchain technology. My app, Lighthouse, is a cryptocurrency investment tool that allows users to track their cryptocurrency portfolio in real-time. It is made to be user-friendly and easy to use for beginners in the crypto space. I learned Flutter, an open-source UI framework developed by Google for creating cross-platform applications, and built my app on that. With a lot of problem-solving and hard work, my project turned out great and I won the Baba Lemon Award for Best App in 2020.
How is The Hidden Genius Project different from other mentorship or training experiences that you have been involved in?
The Hidden Genius Project’s emphasis on centering Black males is special because it creates a unique learning environment and fosters self-confidence. By bringing together individuals from different backgrounds, incomes, mindsets, and attitudes, the program provides a transformative experience for learning and personal growth. This exposure to diverse ideas and opinions helped my creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
What specific skills learned in The Hidden Genius Project have been most beneficial for you?
The program really taught me how to be professional in different spaces. I learned how to communicate and network with people, manage my time, and work collaboratively with my brothers.
Also, The Hidden Genius Project was great at teaching me how to solve problems. They taught me step-by-step methods and gave me actual things I can work on like my app project. Through different situations, I learned how to find problems, get information and solve them, and then make good decisions.
The mentors in the program also focused on helping me become a better teacher and Youth Educator. They taught me how to plan my lessons, manage a class, and adapt to different students. This allowed me to teach alongside other Youth Educators and engage students in a productive way.
What was the most important thing you gained on a personal level (development, relationship, community, etc.) from participating in The Hidden Genius Project?
For me, it was really understanding the different backgrounds and ideas Black men can have and the impact we can make on our community. We do not all come from the same situations or think similarly, everyone is different. I got to understand this during my time in the program with other Geniuses in my cohort.
Another thing I have to include is just showing up. When you show up where you are needed, unexpected things may happen that benefit you,and I learned to show up at The Hidden Genius Project. One of the important times for me was when Arnold Lopez (Manager of Alumni Engagement) helped me get into a transformative scholarship program at Berkeley. If I had not shown up to the office that day to help out, I probably would not have received this opportunity.
How do you think your path might have been different if you hadn’t participated in The Hidden Genius Project?
When I started I was very closed-minded about what the world is really like. Growing up in Castro Valley, CA I wasn’t exposed to other Black people that much so the program helped me develop into who I am today.
I also know that if I didn’t join The Hidden Genius Project I probably would not be going to UC Berkeley in the fall. I would not have learned what trajectory I wanted to be at or how to get there. The things and lessons I gained from The Hidden Genius Project are amazing.
In what ways have you remained involved with The Hidden Genius Project since completing the 15-month Intensive Immersion program?
I have been a Youth Educator for the past couple of years teaching Mobile App Development during the past two summers except this current one. I also have been helping out with different projects whether that is photoshoots, outreach events, and opportunities to work as a Youth Educator.
I often get contacted to help support newer cohorts on Slack, including lots of messages and emails about college resources and scholarships. Also just showing up to The Hidden Genius Project’s headquarters has helped me get a lot of things done, especially with college support.
If you could talk to yourself just before you applied, what is one thing you would say?
Join and soak up every last drop of resource they have available because that’s what they want you to do.
What words of encouragement do you have for future Geniuses?
The same thing as above, don’t take it for granted and get 1000% out of the program. You can do it, all you have to do is show up!