Meet Jones Mays II, Budding Computer Scientist

Photo:  Screen grab from Linkedin.com (Other)
Photo: Screen grab from Linkedin.com (Other)

Jones Mays II went from being the average high school student in AP classes to being mentored by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

High school senior, Jones Mays II, 17 is one of Apple’s 2022 Swift Student Challenge winners, a competition where students use their coding skills to create a unique three-minute, interactive, project. Mays won by creating the app, Ivy.

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Ivy is inspired by his late grandfather’s community garden in Tunica, Mississippi that harvested tomatoes, squash, and okra. However, there was a problem that constantly had to be tended to, “I remember every morning we would always have to wake up and go pull all of the weeds off of the vegetables. Reflecting on this experience, I now know that was an invasive vine called kudzu. So I wanted to fight the thing he hated the most, invasive vines.”

Image:  Courtesy of Jones Mays II
Image: Courtesy of Jones Mays II

Mays has found his footing in the tech industry, but he knows it doesn’t happen so easily for others. Although he comes from a family line of educators, he can’t credit all of his tech knowledge to his schooling, even after taking a couple of computer science classes in school, most of his learning was on Youtube or in books, an unfortunate reality for many young coders.

Mays tutors children computer science, “I know that while I was formally introduced to computer science in that computer science class, ninth grade, we had these things such as coding that I wished I was introduced to earlier. Because ultimately, I think that the earlier you start the better you’ll be in the future.” The STEM field is growing in importance and we need to make sure that young, Black students get the chance to get the knowledge ahead of time.

Even when Black students do get the opportunity to get STEM classes, they don’t always feel confident, Mays points out imposter syndrome, “Sometimes you may be the only Black person in the room and may question whether you’re good enough but ultimately you have to realize that this is for you and no one else and you have to really dig deep and realize that you’re trying to set an example for other people, you may be paving the way for more Black people to and more people of color to take those classes.” In order to have more young, Black people like Mays solving the issues in our community, we have to provide the spaces to do so, and early in their lives.

Looking into the future Mays plans on continuing his studies in computer science while also combining his love for art and art history, “I really believe that I want to go into web-based design or mobile development, and I’m also thinking about going into the industrial design so I can build both the online systems and building hardware, and design the hardware.” He has one project that he looks forward to releasing, which is inspired by his struggle with a pineapple allergy. He is planning on developing an app that detects food allergens that might slip past restaurants or packaged products. Yet again using his passion and expertise to not only help himself but the world around him.

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