Southern Minnesota

This topic is for anyone that wants to ask questions or share information about the BDPA Southern Minnesota.

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BDPA SMN hosts Technology Awareness Events in Rochester, MN as part of the Black Family Technology Awareness Week celebration.
Friends, family and BDPA associates are mourning the loss of a past BDPA Southern Minnesota leader who saved the life of a 10-year-old boy off the coast of Costa Rica, but couldn't make it to shore himself. Thirty-five-year-old Marcus Mack was vacationing in Costa Rica on Feb. 7. He was playing in the water with his friend David Tines (BDPA So Minnesota past president), Tines' 10-year-old son, and the girl of another friend when a wave sucked the group under water.

Tines says Marcus went to the aid of Tines' son D'Angelo. He grabbed the boy by the waist and threw him toward the shore. The boy, his father and the girl all made it to the beach.

But Marcus never made it to shore.

David Tines says Marcus is a hero who saved a boy's life instead of worrying about his own.

Marcus attended several conferences so many BDPA members may remember him. He is the father of three young children so a fund has been set up to help support his family. Donations can be sent to:

'The Mack Fund'
Edward Jones
4057 28th St. N.W., Suite 400
Rochester, MN 55901

The story of his heroism is told in more detail here and here. Please keep his family, David's family and the entire Southern MN Chapter in your prayers.

"No greater love hath a man, than to lay down his life for a friend" (Scriptures, John Chapter 15, verse 13)

Lauren Pemberton is a member of the defending national HSCC championship team from Southern Minnesota.

She joins 156 graduating seniors from Lourdes High School in Rochester MN. The local paper honored her as one of the top ten students in her graduating class. The article provides the following information:
Lauren Pemberton, daughter of John and Elise Pemberton, participated in Math League, RYSA soccer, choir, Lourdes theater productions, the Youth Computer Training Program by BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter, mentored at Mayo Clinic Bioimaging Resource Lab and was an editor for the school newspaper. She was a National Merit Finalist, National Honor Society member and placed first nationally at the BDPA High School Computer Competition in 2005 and 2007. She volunteered at Quarry Hill. She plans to attend Rice University in Texas and study engineering.

The BDPA Foundation is proud to note that Lauren will be one of the most honored Bemley Scholars in our 15-year history! Take a moment to share your COMMENTS for posterity and for Lauren if you have time or inclination!

Congrats to BDPA Southern Minnesota for defending title as National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) champions!   Each of the five students on the team earned a $2,500 Bemley Scholarship!

The BDPA Southern Minnesota Chapter is celebrating 10 years of promoting professional development and administering student programs. Our goal is to help high school students gain knowledge, skills and competitive experiences in Information Technology. We are also committed to enhancing the services we provide in the Rochester community. We just returned from the National Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina as three-peat first place winners of the High School Computer Competition (HSCC) award. A great honor for our hard working students!

BDPA Southern Minnesota has much more in store, as we continue to build partnerships with stakeholders in our community.

Charlie Perkins, President-Elect
BDPA Southern Minnesota

Hey Charlie,

You know I'm doing my best to place up there with you guys in 2010. LOL

Jongy Howard-Calvert is a powerful leader within BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter. She married the past chapter president, Nat Calvert, in 2002. You can find the couple working together on their business in addition to their work with BDPA.

Jongy agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series:

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - I started helping out in the Youth Computer Training classroom by bringing snacks.
  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - Seeing the light bulbs go on for students. And seeing what they can do when they become serious about the work.
  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - Learning to swim in the deep end of the pool a few years ago was liberating.
  4. Who is your hero and why? - My late mother is my hero. She made the most of her station in life and showed her children the world with few resources.
  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - Give what you can. It's a great investment in the future of our youth.

Share some BDPA-love with Jongy!
Charlie Perkins began his 2-year term as president of the BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter this month. He takes over a chapter with a powerful legacy of youth education. BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter won the national high school computer competition (HSCC) championship in four of past five years.

Charlie agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series:

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - I was introduced to BDPA two years ago when I was invited to lunch by Betty Hutchins and Nat Calvert, both past presidents of BDPA Southern Minnesota. I was intrigued with the idea of working with young minority students interested in the Information Technology sector. I was also impressed by Betty and Nat’s passion and commitment to keep BDPA Southern Minnesota a strong and viable chapter. I quickly became interested in the opportunity to add value to something that was already operating well with volunteers and corporate sponsorship. I showed up one Saturday morning to observe the interactions of over 60 young people with instructors, learning how to build websites and write code. Some were only in the 7th grade and it was amazing to watch! I realized then that this was an organization I wanted to become a part of and to help get to the next level.
  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - It’s most rewarding for me when I observe young people getting excited with accomplishing the simplest “thing” using technology. They become more comfortable with taking the next step. Whether it’s tearing down and rebuilding a computer, building a website or simply adding an application to their PDA. There is so much untapped potential in our young people. I hope to open the door for internship opportunities, scholarships, jobs and create a pipeline for BDPA students in my community. I support our mantra “From the classroom to the boardroom”. That would be most rewarding for me.
  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - I managed my son’s Little League baseball team when he was 8 years old. It was the first time I had managed anything. We worked hard preparing for the upcoming season and I knew the boys were ready for prime time. In the stands for our first game was my Mom, Dad, Grandparents, sisters, brothers, church members, friends and guys from work. They all showed up to watch my son’s first game. My son struck out the first three times he batted and I was embarrassed! When got back to the dugout, I lit into him about how pathetic he looked, embarrassing me and the team, that he could try harder and how could he look so bad at the plate?!? He looked at me crying and said “Dad, I’m doing the best I can.” I felt so small and ashamed, and would have crawled into a hole if I could have at that moment. I have never forgotten that moment. It was a lesson learned for me that I carry to this day. I never criticized my son that way again, and he went on to become one of the most talented baseball players in the league for ten years and has many trophies to show for it.

    Later, I became a member of the part-time faculty at Columbia College-Chicago. Whenever I encountered a student struggling or one of my staff who really made the effort, but just wasn’t getting it, I recall the comment my son made to me “Dad, I’m doing the best I can.” It helped me work thru situations that could have been disastrous.
  4. Who is your hero and why? - My dad is my hero. He passed away from cancer about 10 years ago. I admired him so much. He dropped out of school in the sixth grade to help his mother raise their family. He spent 5 years in Germany during World War II dealing with all the racial hatred and stereotypes Blacks endured at that time. He could barely read or write but, taught himself how to survive and raise 7 children. Thanks to my dad, I never realized we were poor. He made sure we had what we needed to make it. He was often belittled and made fun of due to his lack of education. He’s my hero because he taught me how to be a man. That a good name was better than money and if I carried myself respectfully, so many doors would open for me. He was right! When I became Vice President of Harris Bank in Chicago, no one was more proud of me than my dad. He celebrated my every achievement, encouraged me to go further and to be the best I could be!
  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? -
    “I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint - and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.“ -- Oprah Winfrey (September 2002)
    The above quote conveys my feeling about our BETF. You bring your own special qualities to the important work of inspiring young people to be the best they can be. Your financial contribution will help BETF secure funds to sponsor SITES programs for each of the BDPA chapters and offer deserving HSCC students scholarships to attend the University of their choice. Won’t you consider contributing to our Foundation? You won’t regret it.

I hope that you learned something new about Charlie in this Take Five interview. Share some love in the COMMENTS section with this new BDPA leader!
BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter has a remarkable history when it comes to the National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Championships. This chapter has won four of the past five national championships ... including the last three in a row [2005, 2007, 2008, 2009].

The scary thing is that the 2010 national team trained by BDPA Souther Minnesota chapter contains many returning veterans and champions.

The 2010 national team from Southern Minnesota is: Adwait Walimbe (Senior, John Marshall High School), Daniel Sheppard (Sophomore, Virtual Academy), Yaa Kwansa (Freshman, Washington University), James Arama (Freshman, Marist College) and Kris-Ann Hinds (Senior, Century High School)

Can anyone beat the powerhouse team from Southern Minnesota?
BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) has given out over $318,000 in scholarships to more than 150 students since 1999. One of those talented scholarship students is Caroline Tremain. She was a member of the 2006 high school computer competition (HSCC) team trained by BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter. Her team took home the silver medal in the 2006 national HSCC championships held in Los Angeles CA. As a result, Carly earned a Jesse Bemley Scholarship.

Carly decided to use her Bemley Scholarship to help defray the costs of attending the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). She shares her thoughts on the decision with us:
My name is Caroline Tremain. I graduated Mayo High School in Rochester, MN and anxiously await the start of my college studies at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities where I will pursue an area of business at the Carlson School of Management.

As I was going through high school I had different aspirations for my future. I first thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I was an active member on the debate team and believed that it would be an interesting career that I would be good at. In my senior year I did a mentorship with a local judge. I sat in his courtroom every Tuesday morning for three hours. After listening to many cases and watching the same people appear again and again for committing the same crime, I decided I did not want to be a lawyer, at least not a public defender. I like a sense of completion with my work and to me it seemed like lawyers never really complete their jobs, unless the case ends. They only chip away at parts of a case for months or even years. That would drive me crazy.

I once thought that I wanted to be an obstetrician. A close family friend of mine is an obstetrician and always talks about the beautiful baby girls and boys that she helps bring into the world everyday. However after I saw the birthing video in my sophomore year health class I quickly decided that I needed to find another profession. The health industry as a doctor or nurse was not for me. Blood and fluids need to remain inside the body for my job.

In addition to my mentorship senior year I was also the student director for the school musical. That fall we put on the show Annie. I realized that I have natural leadership skills and I can work proficiently at getting major tasks done with a group of people. I really enjoyed this because it kept me involved and in control of most of the aspects of the play. I am not sure what job I will end up doing but I concluded that a business degree could get me a job that I would enjoy and thrive at.

I started looking at schools that had good business programs that were close to home. I wanted to get out of Rochester but I didn’t want to go to far away. I found the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University. After being accepted into both schools I had to make the decision between a small or a large school. I visited both and felt more comfortable at the University of Minnesota.

I am currently undecided on my major but I think it might lean towards marketing. My dad was a marketing manager for twenty-seven years and I think some of his job skills rubbed off on me a little. I understand it pretty well, but I know that there is still so much more to learn. I am very excited to start this fall and begin my future.

I hope that you will take a moment to use the POST A COMMENT option to share some BDPA-Love with Caroline! It is important that BDPA continue to support our HSCC alumni in the years after they participate in the national HSCC championships.

Good luck in your future Carly!

Hello Caroline (Carly),

Congratulations! Yours is a wonderful story that I hope many others will read and learn from. It takes maturity and support from family and friends, to allow you to explore your interests until you find what path matches your values and goals.

So many times parents, friends, teachers and coulselors make the mistake of pushing someone like yourself, who is searching for that which will give meaning to their lives, in directions that they themselves would like to see you go.

Sometimes they might be right, but more often than not, that one ends up in a career that doesn't engage their passion or energy, and instead of giving them wings, it becomes a weight and burden.

I am working on a project to make stories like yours and the lessons they convey, available to a wide audience, because these cannot help but to positively impact the lives of others.

If you are interested in hearing more, please email me at or call my mobile 216-854-1235.

I wish you the very best,

Anthony Hall

Recently I was talking about the great results in the HSCC program up there in Rochester. I suggested that other chapters would benefit from learning your chapter's 'best practices'.

Surprisingly, I rec'd some pushback from a chapter HSCC coordinator. He wrote, "... I think you know the "Southern Minnesota Story" 50K + budget; High School Students taking computer science courses during the Semester; A cadre of technical professional teaching each Saturday; Talented committed students..."

How would you respond to a BDPA chapter that indicates SMN has some built-in advantages?

Will Smith is senior project manager with Mayo Clinic. He is an experienced information technology (IT) professional who has managed multimillion dollar projects through all phases of the IT project life cycle. Will has in-depth knowledge in cost management, risk management, time management, and integration management and a proven ability to deliver high quality IT products and services on schedule and under budget.

In August 2013, Will took on responsibilities as president of our BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter. This isn't a minor chore as this small chapter in Rochester, MN has a powerful legacy in BDPA folklore! Will is attracting new volunteers and funding ... and he is planning an aggressive schedule of programs and services for both students and IT professionals in Rochester. His chapter is currently the 16th largest in the nation.

Will Smith
This blog wanted to get a more personal look into the personality of this rising BDPA leader. We asked Will to give brief answers to some odd questions. We hope you enjoy this new feature that we simply call, 'Long Story Short...'
  1. Favorite way to exercise? - My favorite way to exercise is to play basketball.
  2. Least favorite chore? - My least favorite chore is shoveling snow.
  3. Simple things that make you happiest? - The simple thing that makes me the happiest is spending time with my family.
  4. Who you'd like to meet? - I would like to meet President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Eric Schmidt (Google), Tim Cook (Apple), Bill Russell and Melissa Harris-Perry.
I wonder if Barack, Michelle, Eric, Tim, Bill or Melissa might show up at our 36th annual BDPA Technology Conference on August 5-9, 2014 in Indianapolis to surprise Will?

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