At the age of 16, Johnathan dropped out of high school to work full time, a move encouraged by a father who felt education was worthless. Despite the lack of support, Johnathan earned his high school equivalency and when life became untenable at home, he struck out on his own, buoyed by friends who enabled him to re-start his education at Palomar College. Here he found his enjoyment of learning new things again, and when proficiency turned into mastery in the sciences, he became a teaching assistant to his professors. “As a STEM tutor and instruction leader,” he says, “I was thrilled to use my academic knowledge to help others.” His strong grades enabled him to transfer to UC San Diego, where he found a position as a research assistant in a lab exploring traditional Chinese medicine’s effect on cancer metabolism. An introduction to computer science captivated him and locked in his major and a future in which he sees himself developing cost-effective technologies for humanitarian purposes. “Through the UC San Diego Global TIES program I’ve developed software that helps nonprofits. I have worked on a mobile-friendly website for It’s All About the Kids, developed a web application to assist with San Diego Coastkeeper’s wastewater efforts, and am currently working to revamp the software system of Red Cross Tijuana.” Johnathan will be the first in his family to graduate from college.