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Scholarship Winner! (2022)

Posted: Dec 5, 2022 in Company News

mc head By Dalton Whalen

Congratulations to Sean Tai!

Thank you all for participating and submitting for the chance of winning this awesome scholarship! Creative writing is a great way to express the emotions one feels to tell a tale. Whether it be remembering an important moment, telling an entertaining story, or just proposing new ideas we are glad we can provide an outlet for you students. Unfortunately, we can only pick one winner, so we would be honored to acknowledge Sean Tai for writing the winning essay! It was super awesome to learn about your journey through cybersecurity and the coding world, and we truly hope you continue to excel in the academic world.

The Winning Essay!

I started playing Minecraft Pocket Edition Lite in kindergarten. I begged my mother to let me purchase the Java edition. I was envious as I watched dozens of YouTubers play on multiplayer servers and bonding with their friends. Disappointingly, she refused. As an innocent first grader without a solid moral compass, I pirated a cracked version of Minecraft 1.5.2.
I wondered, “What’s the point of buying the game if I could just get it for free?” However, I quickly realized I didn’t have access to online services, and I was stuck in my creative and single-player worlds. My parents saw me playing Minecraft on the family computer and were initially confused but then became disappointed as they realized what I had done. Finally giving in, they bought Minecraft Java Edition for me.
Pirating Minecraft was my introduction to the world of cybersecurity. For the past four years, I have been actively competing in several cybersecurity capture-the-flag style competitions including CyberPatriot, CalPoly CCIC, NorCalCyber Mayor’s Cup, National Cyber League, CyberStart America, and picoCTF. My team in CyberPatriot placed 4th nationally in the Gold division semifinals. I specialize in securing Windows 10 vulnerabilities as that is the operating system I grew up with and accessed Minecraft on. Minecraft established my interest in cybersecurity and without it, I wouldn’t have even touched the field.
Minecraft also introduced me to the world of coding. In middle school, I hosted a Minecraft server for my friends and me to play on. But vanilla Minecraft had become too mundane, so I installed both server-side and client plugins to make the experience more enjoyable. It was little things like editing the value of an item price in a shop plugin that made me gratified. I also loved messing with command blocks to spawn a dozen mobs on my friend.
Now, I work at CodeNinjas where my coworkers and I teach elementary-level students coding fundamentals through Scratch, JavaScript, and Python. We also host summer camps that teach them Minecraft mods and Roblox game development.
However, I would be lying if I said that I believed Minecraft could only teach the youth academic and creative skills. Minecraft was an outlet for me and was the vessel that allowed me to produce unbreakable bonds with my friends. Minecraft taught me the importance of bonds, through hours on end of conversing with friends.
As an Asian American child, I was taught to be quiet politically and socially. This was ingrained into me and resulted in forming a dismissive mindset. My friends had vocalized their discomfort with my apathetic personality, which I didn’t realize was a problem at the time. But as an effort to open up, I played Minecraft with them. I learned the most valuable lesson through Minecraft; my friends’ hardships and successes were important to me because the bond we held was my responsibility.
I was motivated to create an environment where everyone would feel heard and safe. I did this through leading a club at my school that focused on community contribution and discussion revolving around Asian hate and identity.
As a rising senior, I’m interning for the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign and organizing for Ethnic Studies. I am also structuring a more inclusive Ethnic Studies curriculum at my school with my teacher.
Minecraft allowed me to hone my academic interests but also allowed me to reflect and gain invaluable community bonding skills. Its influence is seen in every facet of my life: my family, the classroom, my friends, and my career. Several of my friends are pursuing STEM careers because Minecraft introduced them to technology. Undeniably, Minecraft is a positive influence. Minecraft isn’t just a block-building game; it’s a game that builds community, careers, and passion.


That’s all, folks! If you happened to miss this scholarship competition opportunity, don’t worry! There will be more, and you can read more information about that on our official scholarship submission page. We hope to bring this academic opportunity to more of you so we can read even more awesome essays, and we wish you all the best in your studies. Have a wonderful semester, and have a great day!

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