Over the summer, Dion Recaii attended a Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE). Dion, who graduated from St. Mary’s College with grade one passes in all fifteen subjects earlier this year, now attends Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC-Department of Arts, General Studies and Sciences) and is in his first year there—he is blessed and he does not take it (his blessings), for granted.
He is diffident—terrible shy, however when he speaks about Science and Engineering, his face lights up and he speaks readily.
“My physics teacher from St. Mary’s College (SMC) Miss (Anya) James told me about SPISE and it seemed like a very interesting programme so I decided to apply and I got accepted,” the student said in an interview with YO! on Tuesday evening.
His love for the aforementioned subjects came when he was at a young age. According to him, he was a very curious child, and naturally, his curiosity went hand in hand with the specified areas.
“Sciences are about learning why things happen;with engineering I eventually realized I liked to learn how things work, how they’re made and so I just gained a love for engineering as well,” he said.
He describes his SPISE (‘an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer programme for gifted Caribbean high-school students’) experience as extraordinary.
According to information provided by caribbeanscience.org, ‘Students who gain admission to SPISE are among the top scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the Region; SPISE aims to nurture and support this kind of rare talent in youth and to encourage them to stay in the STEM disciplines and consider technology entrepreneurship as a career option, so that opportunities for future technology job creation in the Region will not be lost.’
“The people I met at SPISE—I‘ve never met people like them before: so interesting and passionate about Science. Meeting people like that and being in that kind of environment really stirred a passion in me: that there are other people like that and it was exciting to be with them,” Dion said, a small smile crossing his face.
“I learnt a number of things: how to deal with the university environment, being under such an intense workload day after day, how to work as a team, building social interactions, etcetera,” the student, whose SPISE journey was sponsored by St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) said; the programme took place at UWI-Cave Hill in Barbados.
The student, a former Chess captain and prefect (SMC), hopes to attend university after he has graduated from SALCC to study engineering—“Then after that become an engineer for maybe a tech company or perhaps start my own hopefully,” the 16-year-old who turns 17 in December said.
“Technology is a really important aspect of our lives and the ones who are coming up with the new ideas and solving all the modern day problems are the engineers and I feel like I should be one of them because I really enjoy these kinds of things,” he added.
Dion, I discovered has actually created games of his own and hopes to create apps in the future—one has to wonder whether he is a potential Zuckerberg (Facebook founder); he is a whiz kid after all.
“One of them was for our Young Leaders project back at SMC; it was a very small game— more of a brain teaser puzzle kind of game and then at SPISE, one of our projects was to programme a game; it was a replica of the game Asteroids,” Dion, also computer programmer, said.
“I like computer programming so I learned on my own when I was in form three I believe and from there on I’ve been creating programmes,” the student said.
He continued, “I always wondered how pressing buttons could cause something to just appear on a screen, so I decided to pursue it.”
And according to him, he hopes his work will be as great and as recognizable as Elon Musk (founder of X.com which merged with PayPal and founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors amongst others),South African business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor.
“He was a natural entrepreneur and he liked science and engineering so he merged the two and now he’s famous and very influential; I aspire to be like him,” Dion said.
The Dennery resident shared a few tips for success and offered some advice for the ‘nerd’ in the class as well.
“Science is more than just a subject at school that you do and probably (some) find boring”; take Science and all other subjects seriously he said, and you will be rewarded in the end.
And for the ‘nerd’ in the class: “Don’t fall for peer pressure because that will only cause problems. Continue doing what you like—you’re not alone; there are many other people like you and if you continue doing what you’re passionate about, eventually when you go further in life you will meet with these people, and by then you’ll probably be successful.”