These are the kids who get locked out of their parents’ computers because they know how to bypass all the parental controls. They’re the ones who get kicked out of high school computer classes because they rewrite the programs they’re supposed to be learning to use. They’re the ones who – perhaps to their relief – get left out of conversations because they communicate in the zeros and ones of programming language rather than in the words of the English language.
But, the way one Charleston company sees it, these kids have been locked out, kicked out and left out enough over the years. That’s why BiblioLabs – a global leader in digital content distribution – established the annual four-year tuition-paid BiblioLife Scholarship for incoming freshmen intending to major in computer science, computing in the arts or discovery informatics at the College. Based less on GPAs, SATs or application essays, this scholarship gives these atypical scholarship recipients the chance to get in on an education – a chance they may never have thought they had.
“When I heard about the scholarship, it was like the lottery: ‘I’m not going to win that!’” says the 2011 scholarship recipient, freshman Glenn Nelson, who at the time had been offered a job doing IT for a law firm in Hilton Head and had no plan to apply to college – and who did, by the way, manage to hack into his parents’ computer, despite their lockdown efforts. His mother did wield control, however, in this instance, insisting that he apply for the scholarship. “And, lo and behold, they called me in for an interview. I had to go out and buy a dress shirt!”
The 2010 scholar, sophomore David Bruneau, wasn’t any more prepared for a four-year liberal arts education after high school.
“I had financial issues at the time, and if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I would probably have a minimum-wage job right now trying to make enough money to go to community college. It would have been many years before I got any formal education,” he says, noting that his paid internship at BiblioLabs is just as valuable a learning experience as the time he spends in the classroom.
BiblioLabs founder and chief business officer Mitchell Davis ’93 (pictured here) couldn’t agree more: “I think that’s where the true value of this scholarship resides. These internships get them out there in the world, getting experience, writing code, doing a stand-up report every morning, learning how to communicate,” he says. “They grow a lot in the process, too. I’ve watched these guys – who are really your stereotypical computer introverts – become so much more confident and extroverted. They’ve really come out of their shells.”
And once they’re out, let’s face it: They can’t be stopped. With the added armor of education, experience and confidence, these kids aren’t going to be locked, kicked or left out of anything ever again.