Uchenna Aguocha grew up in Nashville, spending his weekends jogging or relaxing in Centennial Park, or taking inspiration from the city for his drawing. For college, he chose to stay local and attend Tennessee State University, one of the largest and highest ranked HBCUs in the country. He chose architectural engineering as his major, but he quickly realized that the theory-based education he was receiving wasn't for him.
"I wasn't passionate about what I was doing," Uchenna says. "There weren't any practical components to what we were doing. It was more about preparing for a test, getting a good grade, and then moving on. It was mostly regurgitation rather than critical thinking, and that's what I wanted to get out of an education, so that's why I decided to change my path."
The summer after his sophomore year, Uchenna heard about Make School, a two-year computer science program in San Francisco.
"I came across this Make School video, and I was like, 'Wow, this is a school I want to be a part of.' And now, I'm here."
Currently in the midst of his first year at Make School, Uchenna is on the mobile development track, learning about and building his own iOS apps and backend servers. He says, "My favorite class so far is... Let me see." After a long pause he murmurs thoughtfully, "They're all good."
Uchenna continues, "It's cool to be in a school where you're surrounded by students who are passionate and want to have a positive impact on people's lives, and Make School has all the things that we [the students] need to become successful, whether we want to become software engineers or entrepreneurs. It's well rounded. It's about learning something, failing at, learning quickly, and moving on."
"It's a fast pace, but everything we're doing at the school emulates what will be expected of us when we work at a tech job."
One of Uchenna's current projects is an app called Namify which he is working on with a fellow student. "I'm terrible with names and faces. Whenever we go to a networking event, I meet all these people and hear so many names, but by the time the event is done, I've forgotten everything. So Namify is a memorization game that helps you learn techniques to memorize faces and names."
Looking back, Uchenna has no regrets about his decision to come to Make School. "The thing that's stood out the most, aside from the technical things we've learned," he notes, "is the soft skills we've gained. How to empathize and work with other people and communicate ideas clearly. I know when I came to Make School, I wasn't very good at public speaking, so we do these things called Lightning Talks every Friday, and the students get up in front of the entire school and talk about their projects. That kind of ongoing experience is really valuable."
When Uchenna finishes Make School, he's eager to make a difference.
"I'd love to work somewhere like this company called Copia (gocopia.com), which does food waste management. Food waste is a huge problem, and they're trying to address it by taking donations from companies and then delivering food to people who need it. That's where my passion is at--I want to help people, but also add value to their lives."
Uchenna is also eager to get back to Nashville. He said, "Nashville is super cool, plus my family and friends are there. Being in San Francisco has been great--seeing technology change right in front of you--but coming back home... I'm looking forward to that."
He added: "Right now in Nashville, there's so much development, condos being built left and right, so many young people moving in, the cost of living is low, there are great jobs... Nashville on the whole is becoming the new 'it' city. I'm excited to come home and start my career."
Learn more about Nashville's own Uchenna Aguocha on his portfolio page.
Make School is a two-year computer science college based in San Francisco. The focus of Make School is product-based learning that prepares students for real-world careers in software development.
Learn more about Make School's philosophy, courses, and income share financing options at makeschool.com.