José Santiago Vales Mena, a student from Preparatoria 2 of the Autonomous University of Yucatan UADY, won a gold medal at the 2018 National Information Technology Olympiad that took place in Mexico City in recent days.
In addition to the medal, Santiago obtained the right to participate in the preliminary tests to be part of the national team that will contend in the 2019 International Olympiad, a process that is familiar to him, as he won bronze last year and obtained the pass to the preliminaries of the international phase this year, which will take place in September in Japan.
Interviewed in Prepa 2, Santiago said he never imagined all the good thing that is happening to him right now, and he confesses, when he entered high school, his grades were not that good.
Santiago, who had been a prominent student since elementary school, noticing that his grades were not excellent, he challenged himself. “React, Santiago, I told myself, and that’s when I started to really want to study math, and I realized that it was not as difficult as I thought”.
Already on track to improve his grades again, his teacher noticed that Santiago was good at math and encouraged him to program. “That’s when I started to see mathematics as a game” he adds.
Encouraged and supported by his teachers, Santiago began to prepare himself for the National Informatics Olympiad, although on that occasion he was not selected. But in his last year in highschool, Santiago made the top 15, and got silver in the end.
In Prepa 2, Santiago was lucky to meet teachers Carlos Baeza Dorantes and Manuel Herrera Góngora, who offered their support and mentoring, and so his participation in the Olympics continued.
The next level
Santiago said that the 2017 National High School Olympiad was a challenge “because it’s another level, it’s a leap”.
However, although some problems seemed true challenges, he won the bronze and a place in the preselection for the international stage that will take place in Japan.
Santiago has passed several filters but the last one will be in a few days, then we will find out if he is one of the four that will represent the country. He will receive economic support from the school management to make the trip.
Motivated even more, Santiago set himself the goal of obtaining the gold medal on this year’s Olympiad, which will turn him into the first Yucatecan to achieve it. 136 young people from all over the country took part in the test; for of them from Yucatan. Santiago was also accepted as part of the preselection for the 2019 international phase.
After five hours, Santiago handed in his exam and immediately received “two thumbs up” from the organizers. “Congratulations, it’s the first gold in Yucatan, they told me.” The results, in fact, were uploaded online in real time, and on that same platform you could see the updated scores.
His mother is very proud of him and said she knew he would get the gold.
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