AlumNow: Perseverance is key to success for Samuell grad

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It took nine years for Shawn Scott, a 1995 graduate of W.W. Samuell High School, to complete his college journey. However, through each hurdle, he became more determined to achieve his goal.

Today, Scott is head of technology for VenueCenter and spends some of his spare time teaching students the ins and outs of computer programming. He urges students today to learn from the mistakes of others because “the biggest thing you don’t know is what you don’t know.”

AlumNow, The Hub feature that profiles district graduates, caught up with Scott to see how things are shaping up in his life.

What are you doing now?

I’m Chief Technology Officer at VenueCenter, where I am responsible for the development and upkeep of our website as well as maintaining all of our technology infrastructure.

Briefly list a few of your career and/or personal highlights.

My biggest accomplishment to date is being in a place where I’m able to give back to the communities that were at the center of my life as a child. Through my organization, Hack the Future, I work with a group of local leaders teaching computer programming skills to local students and exposing them to various aspects of the technology industry. We work with companies such as IBM and JC Penney to produce local hackathons where students come up with great ideas for apps and bring them to life.

What was your favorite subject or activity/involvement in high school?

My favorite activity in high school was playing basketball. Being 6’6″ in high school everyone expected me to play, and it was something I had done my whole life. Although I was never an All American, I learned a lot of life lessons through playing sports like hard work and bouncing back from defeat. Like most, my dreams of playing professionally never materialized, but thankfully I laid a solid foundation for myself with my academic background that has served me well throughout my career.

Who was your favorite teacher?

My favorite teacher was my 11th-grade math teacher Scott Martin. From my first day in his class, we formed a bond while he pushed me to become a better student. He always had a way of breaking down the most complex problems into something that almost anyone could understand. That is a skill that I use every day as I translate the most technical parts of my job into something anyone can understand and relate to.

What lesson did you learn in high school or beyond that has served you well through the years?

The biggest lesson I learned from high school was that being smart is not enough, and that I must always work for whatever I want. I graduated from high school as the valedictorian of my class and went to college the next year at UT Austin and struggled mightily because of the poor study habits I had formed. I took an extended 9 year path to get through college, but once I decided that nothing would stop me from finishing school it became a lot easier and I breezed through.

What advice, if any, would you offer to high school students today?

Take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you, and be proactive in seeking them out. There are tons of people in the world who are ready, willing and able to help you transition to adulthood and blaze a bright path in life. Step out of your comfort zone, and try new things. The biggest thing you don’t know is what you don’t know, and trust me it’s a lot. There are many mistakes you never have to make if you take time to learn from the people who have already made them.

College/University and degree earned:

B.S. in network communications management, Devry University, 2004 

If you are a Dallas ISD alum and would like to be considered for an AlumNow spotlight, please complete the questionnaire and submit along with a recent high-resolution headshot. We look forward to catching up with you and sharing your accomplishments.

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