Code for Life: Don’t Give Up!
When asked about how he got into computer programming, Jason Suptic tells how when he was just five years old his father taught him some basic coding on a Commodore 64 computer his grandfather had bought him.
So his is a whiz kid story.
No, it’s not.
Though he did learn some coding and had fun with it, Suptic took a path far removed from where his father planted that seed of computer knowledge. After dropping out of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, where he took only one basic computer programming class, Suptic got his GED, tried and subsequently failed a few college courses, then joined the Navy. After a year aboard the USS Alabama submarine, he found himself in the brig and then out of the Navy on a bad conduct discharge.
So this is a whiz kid story that turns into a case of wasted talent.
No, it’s not that either.
This is an inspirational story of how Suptic pulled himself up out of the mess he had gotten himself into and turned it around to where he became a graduate of Emporia State University.
“I heard a lot of bad things about how I was going to turn out,” said Suptic. “I thought my life was over. Especially in the Navy where they drum into you that if you get in trouble you are finished. If I believed everything people told me, I would have ended up living on subsidies and working at a minimum wage job.”
Suptic did not give up, though. He started thinking — there was a lot of time to think in the brig, he said — and came up with the idea of going to school to become a mechanical engineer. He planned to enroll at one of two regional universities, neither of which was Emporia State.
“Both programs were heavy in computer graphics and math, and I was really nervous about math,” said Suptic. “So I enrolled at Johnson County Community College where I had a really great professor Sally Edwards. She taught me that if I looked at math the right way, it wasn’t that hard. She used a lot of real world examples and I began to love math.”
From Johnson County, Suptic started looking for a school with a good computer science program.
“I never thought about Emporia State for computer science,” he said. “I thought it was mostly for people that wanted to be teachers. But I checked it out and found the program was good and had what I needed. It was far enough away from home, but still close enough that I could keep close to my son who lives with his mother.
“And the program cost with tuition and room and board was less than the two other regional schools in just their tuition. Then the class sizes, too, were great. The other regional schools had 30 to 39 students in a class, and it is not that easy to ask questions, where at Emporia State my classes had an average of about 12 students or even less in the upper division classes. The professors at Emporia State don’t just brush you off when you ask something and they are not just focused on research, they keep a nice mix of both teaching and research.”
At Emporia State University, Suptic’s life really began to change.
He ate through math classes like they were pieces of pizza. It was the same for computer programming classes. Then he found an outlet for his coding talent outside of the classroom, writing an app for golf scorekeeping and getting it on Google Play, and then writing a book titled Android 4 Development: From Eclipse to End User — available in ebook on Kindle or hard cover form — to help beginners understand how to write code in Eclipse for an Android app.
The target audience for his book is, explained Suptic, “Anyone who has an interest in developing an Android app for the first time. The book is written so that someone with coding experience can focus on the first couple of chapters and last chapter, or anyone else can focus on the book as a whole.”
Suptic’s golf app has been downloaded 173 times and his book has sold 159 digital and paperback copies.
“Jason is a wonderful student — great work ethic, great positive attitude,” said one of his Emporia State University professors, Dr. Betsy Yanik. “I know he had to essentially start from the basics in mathematics as a (non-traditional) student, and oh, how he has soared.”
Suptic soared from his first attempt at calculus I, which he failed, to conquering it along with calculus II and III among other advanced math and computer science courses. His fall 2013 semester saw him accumulate 18 hours of 4.0 and get named to the Dean’s List.
An active member and treasurer of Emporia State’s chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, national math honors society, Suptic also completed two successful independent studies — one in robotics and microcontroller programming and the other in ARM (microprocessors) and assembly language programming.
Suptic is currently the tech lead of a project that Emporia State’s Marketing and Media Relations Department is working on to enhance the campus visit. He also is pursuing a graduate degree in math from Emporia State.
That tiny seed of computer programming, first planted by his father and grandfather, finally worked its way up among the soil of trials and definitely blossomed. Now Suptic would like to share his message with others that might be headed down the same path he once traveled.
“I would like my life, from where I have come from to what I have become, to be a motivation for others,” he said.
So if Suptic could code the life of someone like that, he might do it this way:
“People with my type of background often give up. Don’t give up. If you have had a bump in the road, don’t give up.
“Mine is sort of an underdog story, I guess,” added Suptic. “People will give you a chance if you give yourself a chance.”