- Mouse Alum, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Arts & Technology (2000-2002)
- Apprenticeships: SONY/Columbia Records, Salomon Smith Barney
- Bachelors of Science, Computer Science, SUNY Plattsburgh (2006)
- Founder & Chief Technician, Zong Services; Senior Training Specialist, Mouse; Technologist, Grassroots Technologies; Full Stack Developer, IVY (2016 - Present)
Describe how you became involved with Mouse.
Juan was one of the first students to become involved with Mouse when his high school introduced the Mouse program in Fall 2000. Juan was seen as a valued technology support resource in his school and highly respected by his teachers. “It was the first time that I took apart a computer. That moment of building a computer was one of the most powerful moments. It demystifies technology.”
One year later, Juan was honored by Mouse as a “Champion of Technology and Education.” “The confidence to go up to the podium and present to people who I had never met, came from my experiences with Mouse.” That day, Juan made a promise to start his own business and support Mouse in any way possible.
“It was a life changing moment when I was recognized by Mouse. I realized that because of my involvement with Mouse, what I am learning has value and that I have talent that I can do something with.”
How did your involvement with Mouse impact your college experience?
Juan credits his experience with Mouse will inspiring him to study computer science in college. “The more I was exposed to technology, the more I saw code as an art. After my first year in Mouse, I decided that computer science is my thing.”
Juan graduated with a BS in Computer Science in May 2006. Two weeks after graduation, Juan registered his technology company, Zong Services, Inc. and started with $20 in his business bank account.
“Mouse inspired me to start my own business. Because of Mouse, I was exposed to new role models, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. I knew I wanted to emulate the tech giants of the 90s. Up until that point, my only role models were TV and sports stars.”
After college, Juan returned to his high school and found that his faculty advisor and principal had since left and they were no longer running Mouse. Juan convinced the new administration to restart the Mouse program and offered to volunteer his support on a weekly basis. Juan also continued to be part of the Mouse team as a Training Specialist sharing his talent and experience with the next generation of Mouse students.
“I am so grateful that Mouse opened me up to this new world, gave me confidence. Mouse taught me to make things happen.”
How have you seen Mouse evolve through the years?
Juan has seen Mouse evolve from an organization focused on youth as “fixers” to “creators” with technology. “I’ve seen an evolution that is similar to my own life. I started out very technical. As I have matured in the technology field, my drive to become more creative gets stronger. It’s not just about learning about technology. Those are like lego pieces. It’s about how you put them together to create something that people can really use.”
Why is it important for youth to see themselves as creators?
“It’s important to learn to create, more now than ever before. The real currency of economic and personal growth is being creative. Education in the past was more regimented and cookie cutter -- training students to be more creative is how you bring new things into the world.
Juan also strongly believes in encouraging youth to take positive risks. “Mouse creates an atmosphere where it’s okay to fail. That is so powerful and encourages many more new ideas to come into the world. That core message is more valuable than ever.”
Tell me about your current role?
Juan is a presently a Full Stack Developer at IVY, a community of “inspiring entrepreneurs, artists, and innovative professionals who are determined to make a positive global impact.” “I wanted to feel like I was part of creating something. As a tech person, I love the social component of IVY.”
Reflecting on his experiences with Mouse through the years, Juan shares “I am so grateful that Mouse opened me up to this new world, gave me confidence. Mouse teaches through engagement. You become responsible for your own learning. Mouse taught me to make things happen.”