When Kenny Batista was growing up, he felt like there was something wrong with the current education system. “I would rather quickly teach myself a topic than to sit in a class and listen to the teacher repeat the same thing for hours,” Kenny said. The traditional teaching methods of his public schools weren’t effective for Kenny, and school left him feeling frustrated on a regular basis. “I was always getting in trouble at school for not getting along with most teachers, but I was always good with computers. I would go home every day and build and learn things that I was interested in.”
Then he found Y Combinator founder Paul Graham’s essays, and they changed his entire perspective. “I started reading biographies about how successful people got to where they are, and they basically all took a path that was not traditional.”
When the time came to choose a college, Kenny was accepted at an Ivy League school, but he chose Make School instead. He had no interest in doing what everyone else was doing―he wanted to create his own destiny. “Everyone thought I was insane―my mom, my teachers... I felt this intense social pressure. Everyone was going down the same path, but I decided that I needed to do something different.”
“Everyone’s in a bubble,” Kenny added. “If you go out of the bubble, you get criticized and people tell you you’re doing something wrong, but if you stop listening and go with what you know is right for you, you’ll always find a way to succeed through an alternate path.”
Attending Make School was an out-of-the-bubble decision, and Kenny says, “It was honestly the best decision I ever made.”
When he arrived at Make School, “I was in this new environment, and they threw all of these tools at me that I had to learn how to use. Some of the most important skills I learned were how to design great products and get tons of users. I’m not a great engineer―a lot of my friends at the school were great engineers―but I’m great with products.”
One such product that Kenny is particularly proud of from his time at Make School is Vlogger. Kenny explains, “It’s a vlogging platform that went viral and to date has 80,000 downloads. I like to work with current trends that I find interesting. I had done research and found data that teenagers wanted to vlog but were thwarted by the amount of work it takes to upload a single vlog on YouTube. So I made Vlogger to make it super easy for them to upload videos of what they were doing in a way that was persistent, unlike Snapchat’s ephemerality.”
Kenny’s favorite classes at Make School were, in order, Product Development, iOS Development, and Hardware. But more than the classes―he’s still not a big fan of in-class learning―the best part of Make School for Kenny was “the people I met. They were tremendously smart and motivated individuals unlike anyone else.”
These days, Kenny is a Product Engineer at Original Stitch. He recently shipped an app for the company that is being pushed to their 500,000 users. But in the future, Kenny has even bigger ambitions. “When the time is right, I’m going to start my own business. When I get home from work, I spend four hours working on my own ideas.”
“Make School taught me that ideas are nothing if you don’t execute,” Kenny added. “They taught me to be a creator of products―not only that, but a creator of my own destiny.”
Kenny is now a Software Engineer at Apple. To learn more about his work, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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.