At first, Carnegie Vanguard High School junior, Jones Mays II thought the email declaring him the winner was spam.
“I called my dad, and I was screaming on the phone, and he didn’t believe it either,” Mays said, laughing.
The reality of his accomplishment really hit him when he arrived at Apple Park in Cupertino, California and learned CEO Tim Cook would sit down with him one-on-one.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Mays said. “I didn’t know that I was going to be presenting my app in front of him, the superstar of tech. So that was amazing. And um, I was just surprised at how engaged he was with my app.”
The app Mays created is called Ivy and helps users easily identify invasive plant species, a hugely important skill for many, inspired by Mays’ days working a garden with his grandfather.
All of this, a dream come true and then some.
“Honestly it really confirmed my suspicion of me trying to become a software engineer,” Mays said. “It really validated all my hard work, and it really kind of pushed me to finish my app so it could eventually be published on the App Store by the end of the summer.”
To any students, or adults, hoping to succeed as a software engineer, Mays advice is to “projects instead of just reading about how to do projects, you just need to start working because ultimately you learn by doing.”
This summer, Mays will have plenty of opportunities to pass along that advice as he helps teach computer science classes at Carnegie Vanguard.
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