Some programmers start coding as kids or teens, often thanks to video games. But others start later in life. For CodeWizardsHQ teacher Angel, it wasn’t until he went to college that he decided to pursue computer science. He saw the possibilities for learning how to code, and now he shares those possibilities with his students.

After high school, Angel spent four years as a police officer in the military. When going into college following the military, he started looking toward the future.

“Where we are going with right now, everything in the world is moving towards electronics and technology, so I just did a complete 180 from law enforcement and went straight into programming.”

Even with his decision to dive head first into programming, he didn’t quite know what to expect with his first coding class in Java.

“It was definitely more difficult than I thought than I expected but I feel much more rewarding,” he says. “What got me interested in coding was the creativity of it, how you can pretty much branch off and do a lot of things with programming. It doesn’t just stick to just doing games, you can branch off and do web pages, you’re very free to do anything with programming.”

Embracing the Excitement

When he started to look for a job toward the end of his college career, that’s when Angel discovered CodeWizardsHQ.

“I was really getting closer to the end of the journey of my school year, so I thought it was time for me to start diving into something that’s going to be in my career field down the line. I just stumbled across the job application, I applied, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Although Angel has taught classes for all of our programs, the majority of his classes so far have been for our elementary school program.

“Teaching elementary students has been great, I really enjoy it. The kids are really excited about programming, and I’ve never seen that anywhere before. When I was growing up, coding was not even talked about in school, so coming into CodeWizardsHQ and seeing these young kids excited about coding, that makes me excited, too. It makes me wish that someone had introduced me to programming sooner.”

Angel jiu jitsu

One of the biggest challenges Angel has faced as a teacher is keeping his students excited through the natural trial and error that comes with coding, which can be frustrating, especially for younger kids.

“Programming is not always 100 percent exciting 100 percent of the time. Sometimes it can get frustrating. It does involve a lot of critical thinking, a lot of trial and error, and one of the challenging things is having a kid go through that on their own. You kind of have them to walk through it, like, hey, this is kind of part of the process when it comes to programming. You’re not always going to get it right the first time right.” 

To connect with his students and encourage them to keep trying, he shares his own experiences learning how to code for the first time.

“I tell them that in my very first programming class, I didn’t do so well. I kind of left that class off in the back like it was one of those classes where I could do everything last minute, and it wasn’t anything like that. So trying to explain that to a child, sometimes you have to find creative ways to explain it.”

Staying Active

When he’s not teaching, Angel does his best to maintain an active lifestyle in between his busy schedule.

“I’m a Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner, I’m blue belt, so I do that pretty often. I go train martial arts every so often as well and then go to the gym. I try to stay active as much as I can because I spend most of my time in front of a computer.”

Angel with his pugs

He also has three pugs at home, Bruce, Luna, and Mimo, who he jokes are kind of like his kids and definitely keep him busy. In a few short weeks he’ll also be graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio. 

Although he realizes that not every one of his CodeWizardsHQ students will go on to pursue programming in college like he has, he encourages parents to see the classes as an investment in their child’s future.

“Even though maybe your child might not want to use it later on, at least your child knows that they have those skills already. If they get introduced to it again as they grow older, they’ll be much quicker to pick it up with that background already,” he says. “If they do love it, even better, because by the time you get to my age, they should be already a pro.”