by Cherryl F. Cercado
photography by Veero Der-Karabetian
As silence fills the computer lab where Jason Wallace works, he finds himself in a situation that he is not used to. The silence is broken by a frantic clicking of the mouse. Click… click… double-click… and then with a hint of frustration, he finally says under his breath, “I can’t find it.”
Wallace, a junior computer science major with an emphasis in software and a minor in criminology, is used to finding the one file that no one else can. Simply put, he likes computers, and, in return, the computers seem to like him.
Wallace was about 10 years old when he laid eyes on his first computer at his baby-sitter’s house. “My babysitter had a Commodore 64, and we used to always go over there and play games,” he says.
But it was high school that nurtured his interest in computers when he started taking programming classes. From then on, Wallace knew that computer science would be his major. “I knew that’s where I wanted to be and I knew that in high school,” he says. “I knew that the job market would do well in computers.”
He does concede that his knowledge in computers was not exceptional. In fact, he still refuses to call himself an expert on the matter. “I can use a computer. I can show people how to use a computer,” says Wallace thoughtfully. “But, I’m not an expert in how the computer works or why some things work and why some things don’t.”
His software emphasis allows him to be creative; he deals mostly with programs, making them work and installing them. “I decided that software would be a better way to go,” says Wallace.
He also explains that if his criminology minor does not lead him to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), his software emphasis might allow him to attain a position with companies like Nintendo or Sega Genesis and create games.
“I think I’m creative,” says Wallace modestly. “I don’t really know for sure, but I can come up with some good thoughts inside my head when I need to. I have a good imagination, and it allows me to think of some creative things when I need to.”
Although he has a full academic load carrying 15 units, and works at the computer lab every day of the week except for Wednesdays, Wallace admits that he is not the typical student. “People are always sitting down to study, and I can’t do that. I need to be in the computer lab,” he explains. “I’ve been blessed with a great memory.”
Other things that may not make Wallace so typical is the fact that as a freshman he was part of the Division III National Championship baseball team.
“It was a dream season,” says Wallace. “We went undefeated through the conference, and we just dominated everybody. We went back to Virginia, and everybody looked at us and said, ‘Look at these guys from the West Coast.’ We went in as underdogs and decided to just win.”
He “fell in love” with baseball 10 years ago and has played on a team ever since. Although he did take the last season off, he is eager to return to the sport and play once again.
Does Wallace love computers as much as he loves baseball?
“Close to it,” he says with a smile. “Probably not as strongly, but pretty close to it. I love to go out and play baseball just because it’s outside and with friends.
“It’s a different feeling around computers. The power that the computer has is at your fingertips, and you could do anything you want with it.”