How Formula 1, a math competition and one student’s passion for CS became an inspiration
How Code.org helped one Malaysian student discover his passion for computer science—and giving.
Christopher Raj Victor didn’t realize he had won a prize at first.
The 12-year-old living in Selangor, Malaysia participated in an informal math competition organized by a friend’s mother at a local playground, and tied for second place. He was asked to come collect his winnings, and rode his bike uphill to retrieve his award. His prize for solving 20/25 math problems correctly was 10 Malaysian ringgits, or roughly $2.50 U.S. dollars.
His first thought was to donate his newly-earned winnings, but to where? As a Formula 1 racing fan, Christopher admired a fundraiser organized by a French driver named Pierre Gasly, who had auctioned off a racing helmet to benefit the Ayrton Senna Institute. The Brazilian organization seeks to create educational and economic opportunities for young Brazilians, and takes its name from famed Formula 1 Ayrton Senna da Silva, who tragically died in a race-related crash in 1994.
Christopher was inspired by Gasly’s fundraiser and the organization’s focus on education, and so he decided to do something similar: his winnings would go to Code.org, which is where he got his start learning computer science.
Developing a lifelong love of computer science
Christopher first discovered Code.org when he was 9 years old. His school didn’t offer computer science classes at the time, so he studied on his own using Code.org tutorials and lessons from other providers over the next few years. Then, his school began participating in the Hour of Code, which allows students around the globe to choose from hundreds of tutorials that teach computer science concepts. The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) — a Code.org International Partner — has been driving the Hour of Code movement in the country.
Christopher will turn 13 this year, and he says he hopes to study computer science in college and eventually land a job in the industry. Malaysia’s technology industry is growing, although at a slower pace than desired, according to a 2019 report published by PIKOM — The National Tech Association of Malaysia. However, tech skills and jobs in the industry are some of the highest-paying in the country, according to the report.
For now, Christopher says he is content to continue exploring computer science and mastering his skills. In addition to taking CS classes, he also makes games on a platform called Roblox, which allows users to program and play games created by other users. He says his games have more than 650 plays.
For him, the creative aspects of computer science are key.
“I think code really expands my mind,” he says. “You need to know how languages are organized and learn a new way of thinking. I think computer science gives you a lot of freedom once you understand those basic rules.”
A kind gesture inspires Code.org staff and community
What started as a small gift, given generously, inspired Code.org staff to match Christopher’s support with personal contributions from team members across the organization.
We invite you to join us in celebrating Christopher’s learning journey by making the most generous gift you can by June 30, 2021 by visiting donate.code.org/christopher.
Your support helps Code.org bring free computer science education to every student in every classroom, reaching students like Christopher in Malaysia and beyond.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 593–5521 if you have any questions or need assistance.
And as for other students who want to begin their computer science journey, Christopher has some advice. “Start with block coding and then move on to language coding,” he says, recounting his own path to getting started in CS. “And of course, make sure you have a passion for it. It’s always good to have a passion for what you’re doing.”
-Kirsten O’Brien, Code.org