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During his freshman year at Green Hope High School, Alex Bainbridge never guessed hed be headed to Las Vegas for a computer challenge. But he signed up for a Microsoft Excel and Access class and worked hard to learn the ropes.
After passing the same certification test that more than 285,000 students took around the world, he was off Las Vegas with 113 other finalists. The students, ranging in age from 13 to 22, competed in the Certiport Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office.
In the end, Bainbridge walked away with a bronze medal in the Excel 2010 category and a scholarship check for $500.
Q: How did you find out about the competition?
A: When you take the certification test, you can check yes or no if you want to compete in a worldwide competition. Then I did an interview with them on the phone, and we screen-shared. ... They recorded it.
Q: How did you prepare for the competition?
A: I have to thank SAS; I didnt have Excel 2010 on my computer at home, so my teacher asked SAS if I could borrow one of theirs. I was able to prepare using one of their computers.
Q: What is a computer challenge like? What happens when youre competing?
A: There were six different events, or tracks, you could compete in. The organizers took us into a champions lounge, gave us instructions and told us what to expect. We went into a room with a bunch of computers and proctors and took a test. An hour later, we were given a printout, and we had to recreate it on Excel. We didnt get to see our scores; we didnt find out who won until the awards ceremony the next night.
Q: I hope your trip wasnt all work. You and your parents got to stay at the Bellagio in Vegas. What else did you do?
A: Certiport Worldwide paid for the trip, and we got to see the Beatles LOVE show. And the next day, we visited the Grand Canyon.
Q: What are your goals? Do you already know what you want to do with the rest of your life?
A: I plan to major in computer science, and Ill see which doors open up as I go.
Q: How has the competition affected you?
A: It has made me feel more confident about myself, and its helped me realize that this is what I want to do.