In middle school, Daniel Barajas would start his day at 4:00am and walk an hour and half to the bus stop. His parents didn’t own a car, so this was the only way he could make it to school across the San Fernando Valley. He did this every day from sixth to eighth grade. At some point in his three-hour round-trip journey, Daniel decided to find a school closer to home so he wouldn’t have to continue this arduous routine. Interested in mechanics and technology (and because it was ten minutes from his house), Daniel decided to enroll in Cesar E. Chavez Technology Preparatory Academy (TPA) as a freshman. In a turn-of-fate for a student who didn’t own a computer until 9th grade, Daniel fell in love with computer programming.
“I’ve always been a technical person,” said Daniel. “I like building things; I like being hands-on.”
Daniel will soon graduate from Chavez TPA and will be attending the University of California at Berkeley in the fall to study electrical engineering and computer science thanks to the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship. Daniel was recently announced as one of 250 winners across the nation who will receive a $40,000 scholarship from Amazon to help them pursue a computer science education.
“I was never planning to go to college. I only developed the mindset of going to college about a year ago.” Daniel now hopes to pursue a career in computer and software programming because of the broad professional opportunities it provides.
Recipients of the Amazon scholarship also receive a 12-week paid internship at Amazon after completing their freshman year of college. Daniel can choose to work at Amazon corporate locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle. While interning at Amazon, Daniel will have the opportunity to work on a software engineering team and be paired up with a co-intern, manager, and mentors. He will be able to work on some of Amazon’s groundbreaking technologies and core platforms, like Alexa voice technology, Amazon Web Services, and the Amazon retail platform. Daniel will also get exposure to the Amazon business through fireside chats with senior leaders, deep dives from technology teams, and an annual Alexa skills-building hackathon.
“I have had the privilege of being Daniel’s principal for the past two years,” said Freddy Ortiz, Principal of Cesar E. Chavez Technology Preparatory Academy. “He and his family, like many LAUSD students, were impacted by the pandemic and other issues that have impacted his young life. With all these challenges, Daniel kept working and his perseverance paid off academically and socially. We are so proud of Daniel and the TPA family wish him the best and know he will continue to SOAR.”
In addition to winning the prestigious Amazon scholarship, Daniel also received a scholarship from the Andrés y María Cárdenas Family Foundation.