Past Experiences Mold You From Within 

By Estefano Reyes - First-Person Experience

March 27th, 2021 at 11:00 A.M. EST.  


     With shaking legs and shivering hands, my dad inserted his card for the third time. He was petrified, knowing the ATM would soon determine our fate. I didn’t believe it when the screen displayed zero dollars in our savings account. It had been confirmed: my father had lost all his funds to a cyberattack. We felt vulnerable and scared—the sunset and the line of impatient customers formed behind us only increased our feeling of helplessness. As immigrants from Venezuela, we had not yet been in the United States for a year and had been struggling to adapt to the new culture. That afternoon the rent was due. We sat starving on the dining room table, and as I observed my father hunched over in despair, I pondered how I’d ever manage to continue with my education. My family was shattered. My mother still awaited her visa approval back in Venezuela. Emigrating at the age of 16 without her meant I was faced with a new challenge that I’d now have to conquer. I had wanted to enjoy life and learn in school with my friends, but my newfound responsibilities refrained me from doing so. Maturing at such a young age gave me the resilience and perseverance that have determined the person I am today.

     Later that year, in 2017, as I read “Good to Great” by Jim C. Collins, I thought back to the day my father lost all his savings. That same night, my aspirations for studying business and computer science in order to protect both mine and others’ finances solidified. The intersection between these fields would aid in the development of financial services through digital platforms, whilst ensuring the safety of applications through the use of cybersecurity protection models.

     As a college freshman, I investigated how to create financial models that integrate lower-income populations into the world economy. Mobile money ecosystem was my preferred monetary plan. Mobile money is an application equipped with financial services that promote diversity and inclusion for underrepresented sectors joining them to the same marketplace as the banked population. While learning about mobile money, I felt intrigued by how "airtime" symbolized a virtual currency where users could render transactions and retrieve disbursements.

     Though in its purest sense, mobile money is a beneficial model, further research raised my concern about its weakness against hacks and cyber threats. As I continued learning about alternatives that could have prevented my father's cyber threat four years back, I read the benefits of a startup in Seattle, WA,"Samaritan" app. This smartphone application works with built-in digital money that homeless individuals could use to purchase their needs. I pondered how mobile money serves as a digital financial service provider for the poorest economies found throughout Africa. Also, it works as a digital aid to the local, national, and international homeless. 

     Three months prior to my twenty first birthday, Miami Dade College honored me with the “CS50x Scholarship” to acquire the essential skills in computer science. This award allowed me to perceive technology from a humanistic perspective, in which its purpose is to uplift the paradigms of poor economies worldwide. I collaboratively built websites while self-studying microeconomics and public policy to learn labor markets, educational incentives, and underpinning theories of human capital. By the end of the semester, I was both driven and determined to make a socio-economic change through a technological platform. I feel a responsibility to aid other vulnerable families, who, much like my own at one point, may be on the brink of losing their finances. I intend to pursue the field of computer science not only as an educational pathway but as a lifetime endeavor to forge a more safe and secure world.

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Estefano Reyes

Estefano Reyes is a sophomore student majoring in computer science and aspiring to get a minor in mathematics at the Miami Dade Honors College, Eduardo J. Padron Campus. He has been a member of the Dean List since January 2020 and has been a Mathematics and Computer Science research assistant with Dr. Jyrko Correa. Specifically, his research ranges from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning, Classification Methods, Clustering Analysis, to Consensus Methods. In fact, Estefano Reyes, as the president of Sigma Zeta Honors Society Gamma Rho Chapter, is an AI Co-Author within the Swiss Mathematics Springer editorial.

Additionally, Estefano is a leader in Miami Dade College as a Co-organizer with Feeding South Florida (FSF). His latest participation with Sigma Zeta Gamma Rho Chapter members provided a meal for 45,000 families across South Florida. Estefano Reyes is a student member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His mission is to conjoin the aerospace community as a prospective Artificial Intelligence researcher to expand the human race to outer space and beyond. Last, Estefano Reyes is a current writer with Urbana Literary & Arts Magazine Volume XIV, as he aims to cross-collaborate in the humanistic field at MDC. His main hobbies are biking and learning Mandarin.


Photo by Talia Fragoso

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