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Thanksgiving: My Path to Open Source and Exercism

November 22, 2018

Today I'm thankful for exercism and my path to open source.

I started programming when I was around 12 years old. Not sure what it was, but I just had some driving curiosity to learn programming. I had read online about some language called Java so I wanted to learn that. I signed up for codecademy and started learning JavaScript. I got around half way through the course when I found out that Java and JavaScript were not the same thing.

Around this time was also when I had been learning linux skills. I had a Nook Tablet that I used. I wanted full android on it and bought some sd card that I could use to dual boot it. I used this for a while and eventually learned about jailbreaking and rooting. I wanted to root my tablet, and I found out that the dual boot system had team win recovery program installed, which I used to flash cyanogenmod. I learned to use the terminal and how to change my mac address to get around some internet restrictions my parents had in place.

Anyways, after I had realized I hadn't been learning Java, I checked out some books from the library about it. I re-read chapters of them over and over trying to understand. I was confused about words like static and void. Eventually, our family moved and I had the opportunity to learn Java at the high school.

I took an introductory Java course and one day it just clicked for me and everything started making sense. The next year, I took AP Computer Science A and scored a 5 on the exam.

Where does open source fit into this? Well, my first pull request was made to PokemonGoF/PokemonGo-Web on October 2, 2016. This was about half way through my AP Computer Science class. The pull request simply removed the arrow-functions to support older browsers.

Then, at the end of that school year, I started contributing to exercism/java. From May 2017 through July 2017, I opened numerous pull requests. I started with some simple things, fixing a few lines of code here and there, and continued to implement new exercises and rework documentation.

In July 2017, I was invited to maintain the Java track. Since then, I've been a part of exercism and I was able to see the transition from v1 to v2. I have been less involved since because of school and life, but I still try to contribute here and there when I can.

I've also had the opportunity to mentor people's exercises on exercism. I love to help others better their code, and I always appreciate the help people give me on my submitted solutions.

The experience I have gained through contributing to exercism has been invaluable to me. At 17, I can currently say that I have contributed to real-world projects. Exercism has helped me improve my programming skills as well, and I've had several internships since then that I may not have had without.

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