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East County Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2 months ago

Out of Door Academy student to head to Scotland after graduation.

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ODA graduate pursues his computer science dreams to the University of St. Andrews.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

When senior Out-of-Door Academy student Ben Johnson walks across the stage June 1, it won’t be long until he takes his talents to Europe.

Johnson, who is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, will head to Scotland to attend the University of St. Andrews for computer science.

Working hard went beyond academics for Johnson, who spent much of his time after school rowing.

“It taught me the value of teamwork,” he said of rowing. “The strongest player is only as strong as the weakest teammate.”

While he hopes to explore similar activities abroad, his true passion shines and his eyes light up as he talks about computer science.

“It’s so exciting,” he said. “It’s becoming more a part of our everyday life. A lot of that is unknown, and that’s why it’s exciting.”

He finds program and application development just as interesting as artificial intelligence and machine learning, but he said it’s hard for him to imagine exactly where he might be in 10 years. Sure, he said, it would be cool to work for a company like Microsoft or Google, but he also could see himself starting his own company, too.

When he’s not juggling his school-related responsibilities or rowing, Johnson said he enjoys spending time in the pool, watching movies and generally hanging out with family and friends.

His hard work and success have certainly been enough to get him noticed by teachers like Ryan Kinser. Kinser is the director of instructional technology at ODA and has taught intro to computer programming and AP computer science.

“All of his teachers agree,” Kinser said. “He’s just someone you can count on and you know he’s going to be at the top of his game no matter what he’s doing.”

Over the three years Kinser has known Johnson, he said, he’s seen the student become more confident in his ability, though he would like to see him speak up more.

“I think he could do a lot of good by being somebody you hear more often,” he said. “He’s got all of the potential to have creative solutions and to be a leader.”

Beyond that, Kinser said, Johnson is well-liked and a meticulous learner. He asks questions even if he knows the material just to make sure he fully grasps the knowledge he needs, and noted that one of his biggest strengths is that Johnson is never complacent.

“He finds out what needs to be done and does it,” Kinser said. “And he’s never above criticism.”

Kinser said that though he’s headed across the Atlantic Ocean to continue his education, he’s not scared.

“It will be a big change, but it’s one I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m ready to experience something very new.”

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