Student Spotlight: One Computer Science Major’s Whirlwind Journey—Fueled by Opportunity

In The News, Student Highlight

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“Lately, life’s been fast-tracked for Anthony Peña, a student at Florida International University in Miami. The 23-year-old co-created a receipt management app, won first-place honors in local and national demo day competitions, mentored interns at Facebook University and secured an internship with Amazon in 2022. 

In just nine months.

And it all started when he received an email with this subject line: CodePath.org brings free coding course to FIU.

“I thought it would be just one class,” says Anthony, a computer science major. “But it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.”

Anthony enrolled in CodePath’s 12-week Android training program for students interested in pursuing careers in software engineering, cybersecurity and other tech fields. In addition to intense, project-focused labs and coding sessions, students also receive career support and access to mentors. The nonprofit’s goal is to increase diversity in the sector by offering support and training to underrepresented minorities and historically excluded populations.

The work has left him with little free time—not that he’s complaining.

“I’ve been disconnected from my gaming PC for about six or seven months,” he says. “I don’t have the itch anymore to play. I’m totally fine spending the day studying. You just have to build that habit.”

That’s how Anthony ended up creating PaperClutch, an Android app (soon to be available at the Google Play store) that stores and sorts receipts that are scanned in by users. During the second half of the CodePath program, teams build an app from the ground up. He and teammate Aldo Socarras wanted a mechanism for reducing the half-billion pounds of paper receipts printed every year. Students then present their apps to an audience of peers, teachers and industry professionals during “demo day” competitions.”

Read more at cognizantusfoundation.org.