Jose Moreno, The Programming Ex-Con Who Changed His Life

Jose Moreno
Mar 10, 2017 · 3 min read
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If I Can Do It, So Can You

I served 80% of a two-year sentence in a level 2 prison. This wasn’t as bad or scary as a lot of people assume. The actual worst part is the fact you don’t have your freedom. As far as the danger aspect, as long as you are not extremely ‘strange’, got pride problems, or anger issues, the danger chance is low, at least in the prison I was at… I digress. So if it wasn’t for my incarceration I would’ve probably died or continued living for negative ideas and selfish ambitions.
When incarcerated I began to focus on reading and learning. I would see many prisoners speak of waiting to be released, only to return to the same way of thinking. What caused this? I believe a lack of proper education and a lack of embedded love for learning from an early age contributed to this. Maybe it wasn’t the full cause, but it added to it significantly and I knew when I got out of there, I would continue learning, and I would use what I learned to help others become passionate about learning, and bring positive change to society. We can all learn from each other!
When I got out of prison I thought I wanted to get into psychology. During that time I started taking classes at the junior college and during this, I was working at my uncle’s cell phone store. I had always loved computers and thought I was pretty savvy. Questioning my perceived savviness is exactly what made me realize I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. We would run into network problems and software problems and I would not be able to figure out the problem. By this time I started wondering more about software and how it is written. I googled free programming courses and ran into some free python courses. I went through it half way and got to arrays and it started confusing me because I didn’t understand how any of it could apply to making apps. I realized that I had no idea how to apply this to anything or even create something outside of the websites course editor. but I also started to get a taste of loops and conditions and the possibilities that are behind creating programs. I told my school counselor my new found passion and she suggested an introduction to programming class for C++. It was in this class that I was able to finally talk with other programmers and the teacher helped me understand the concepts I was struggling learning on my own. About a month before that class was over I saw an ad on social media of a programming school that invests in you as opposed to lending you money. I applied for this school and learned that they focused on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript which up until then I knew nothing about. I started to research and followed along with some videos on YouTube until I understood how the 3 languages work together to make a webpage dynamic, stylish, and structured.
After I applied I began searching for more courses and ran into freeCodeCamp. This site was new to me, and immediately I began the next part of my journey. I got accepted into the school and I begin April 10th 2017. I am excited and I am yet to finish all of the freeCodeCamp’s challenges but I am passionate about doing so. I am excited to get to the non-profit section as well because giving back is the most amazing feeling ever. There will be more to this story, but for now, this is where I am at. A beginner coder, with a fire burning within. A programmer who seeks to learn the craft not so much for monetary gain, but for the love of the challenge and for the love of learning. And overall the love of the free distribution of knowledge through human communication. I have begun coding videos available here that help me to reinforce what I learn, but others may get something out of it as well, all I ask is that they return the favor to someone else if they can, when they can. (:
— Jose Moreno
P.s. I love meeting new people, so add me on SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. )

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