Mentor Monday: Meet Daniel


Daniel Lozano mentors Bold Idea students at Rosemont International Language School in Dallas. In his professional life, he works at software consultancy Pariveda Solutions.

Now, get to know him in his own words. Meet Daniel...

What is something many people don't know about you?
I know how to knit. When I was in college, I needed a beanie because it would get colder in Waco, TX than I was used to in Brownsville, TX. I never liked any of the beanie options that were available to me and for some reason, it seemed easier to learn how to knit and make one myself than to buy one. If you know about yarncraft, then you know that it’s easier to crochet a beanie than it is to knit one, but it’s too late for me now. One year to save money, I gifted people knitted hats for Christmas. It was more personal too because you must spend hours making each individual hat. I had more time back then.

How did you become interested in technology and programming?
These are two separate questions for me. 

I first began to get interested in technology through video games. I would play games on my dad’s Windows 95 computer. When I was bored with games, I would pretty much go through every folder in the computer. Not sure why. The point is, I became very familiar with computers. When I was in 7th grade, I got my very own computer for Christmas. I like to think it’s because my parents thought that I would learn more if I had my own computer, but the reality probably is that they got it so that I wouldn’t be messing up my dad’s computer. If I had to sum up my experiences with technology, it is the following: I broke things until I learned why things broke. (Notice the word “fix” is not in that sentence)

In college, many students struggle with finding what to do after college. I think it’s important to determine what you DON’T want to do first. For me, it was programming. I did NOT want to program for work. Life, of course, had other plans for me and I started working in consulting where 100% of my job was programming. Although I did struggle at first, I eventually started to do better. And believe it or not I LIKED IT. I liked it A LOT! The more I coded, the more I learned, and the more I learned, the better I did. The better I did, the more I coded. It’s an ideal feedback loop for me.

What did you study in college?
I had planned for a good while to study music in college. However, that didn’t quite work out, so I studied electrical engineering for 2 years. As it turns out, that didn’t work out either, so I majored in Management Information Systems. I completed my degree program at Baylor University in 2012. 

What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m at a client that specializes in making vehicle ignition interlock devices. We are working on a customer portal that allows users to make and schedule payments as well as sign up and check their status instead of having to make a call or physically go down to the store. We leverage full-stack .NET with knockout.js on the web front-end. I work primarily on the main API, and there are mobile and web applications that utilize the API.

What have you gained from being a mentor? What was your most memorable moment while mentoring?
We have one student who seems to be distracted during our sessions. The most memorable moment for me was when we asked him specific, well-thought out questions to make him consider many facets of a problem at the same time. He went quickly from being distracted in general to intensely focused and productive. This taught me that the students certainly have the capacity to think critically, even if they appear not to be interested. The difference is motivation. Everyone is motivated by different things, and learning what motivates someone is a powerful tool for a mentor.

Is there anything that you wish you could tell your younger self about coding?
Yes, a ton. Write this down. First, remember that book C++ for dummies that you bought in middle school but then stopped reading because it was too hard? Don’t give up on that, you dummy. You’ll take a C++ course in college, and you’re going to feel SUPER behind compared to your peers. Secondly, textbooks are a scam; buy international versions. Next, please, oh please, do NOT use absolute positioning in HTML. I know your .NET teacher used it, but it’s because she was trying to explain .NET, not HTML. Avoid it like the plague. Lastly, in the Fall of 2011, you will meet a homeless man who walks into the motel you’re working at. He asks for the time and a newspaper. He will do this consistently for a few months and then suddenly stop. Talk to him and find out what his story is before that happens. It turns out you will think about this A LOT as an adult. 

What is it about Bold Idea's mission that really connects with you?
I was a very precocious kid growing up. Technology was very interesting to me, however, I had to learn by trial and error because I had no real guide that could show me how, where and what to learn. As a result, my learning was significantly stunted and by the time I started learning how to code, I was VERY behind compared to the rest of my peers. I always felt like I had to catch up. I wanted to foster an opportunity for students to start learning code earlier so that they can feel confident in their abilities by the time code is (hopefully) part of their curriculum in college. Even if they do not pursue a degree in technology, learning code will help with structured logical thinking as well as promoting creativity.