Apple rolls out the red carpet for WWDC Scholarship winners

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Apple gives WWDC Scholarships winners like me a great experience.
Kenny Batista/ Cult of Mac
Photo: Kenny Batista/Cult of Mac

This week, student Kenny Batista will be writing a diary from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. Kenny won a coveted WWDC Scholarship, which includes food, lodging and VIP access.

SAN JOSE, California — Apple does a great job making its WWDC scholars feel special. The company planned an awesome orientation day for us, full of Apple swag, insights about what Cupertino’s core teams are working on, and one-on-one networking with Apple engineers.

And then there were the secret events throughout the orientation. Hands down, Sunday was one of the most exciting days of my life. Let me tell you about it.

Checking into the WWDC scholars dorm

First, a quick detour: Saturday, I took a train from San Francisco down to San Jose State University, where all the WWDC scholars who flew in from around the world checked into the dorms. I quickly made new friends from Italy and Brazil, noticing the Apple-y personalities we have in common. We stayed up until 2 a.m. talking about what Apple might release during Monday’s keynote.

Here is a picture of what my dorm room looks like:

Apple scholars dorm WWDC 2017
This is the dorm room that will be my home during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Photo: Kenny Batista/Cult of Mac

WWDC check-in and swag collection

I woke up at 8 a.m. Sunday and made sure that I was at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center by 9 a.m. to enjoy the breakfast Apple provided us. I then checked in to WWDC, receiving my badge for access to the events all around town and a personalized Levi’s-branded WWDC 2017 jacket with pins of the development tools I used and the country I was from.

Exclusive WWDC Scholarship orientation

A few of the scholars and I walked over to the Hammer Theatre for the WWDC Scholarship orientation. This is where the highlight of the day happened.

Right off the bat, Apple gave us some lovely news — all the scholars would get reserved, front-row seats for Monday’s keynote so they could watch Apple release this year’s updates and products.

Kenny Batista and Tim Cook
It’s not every day you get to take a selfie with Tim Cook.
Photo: Kenny Batista/Cult of Mac

We sat in an auditorium and saw insightful presentations by members of the core teams at Apple on how they faced and solved tremendously difficult problems. A few of the segments were on localization, iPad Playgrounds and the Apple Watch Activity app.

I was very interested in the Activity presentation: Apple’s fitness and health chief Jay Blahnik talked about the team’s mission to use Apple Watch and gamification as a portal to get people healthier by having them “sit less, move more and get some exercise.”

We where then asked to gather onstage for a group photo. Tim Cook cooked showed up from the back and surprised us — we all got to take selfies with him. I recall him mentioning how proud he was of one of the youngest scholars, Niall Kehoe, who is only 13 years old. Check out my selfie with Tim!

I then went outside to network with Apple’s engineers. I went up to them individually and asked them this question: “What best piece of advice do you have for a 19-year-old like me about life?”

Here is one of the best responses. Lemont from Apple said, “Learn to balance your work life, don’t try to brute-force a solution. If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t keep trying to solve it over and over again during the same time — instead go outside and do a physical activity and come back to your computer in a few hours. Now then will you have a much better approach at solving the problem.”

WWDC scholars orientation ends with cool Apple swag

Developer Kit Apple TV WWDC 2017
Every WWDC Scholarship winner takes home a developer-edition Apple TV.
Photo: Kenny Batista/Cult of Mac

Before we left the orientation, they handed all of us developer-edition Apple TVs. I’m totally planning on building some awesome apps for this platform — there seems to be a market for it. ;)

Sunday was truly spectacular. It couldn’t have gone better. Thank you, Apple, for making it an unforgettable day. Stay tuned for the next part of my journey — my keynote experience!

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