Meet 2023 Kathy Pace Scholarship Winners - Kade Mertins and Yogi Dalge

The Kathy Pace Technology scholarship is an opportunity presented by Centre Technologies commemorating the late Kathy Pace, mother of CEO and Founder, Chris Pace. She firmly believed in supporting the community and continuing education. This scholarship opportunity is awarded to individuals in the technology field who possess compassion, drive, and a commitment to enhancing technology to improve the world. This year, our Kathy Pace Scholarship recipients were Kade Mertins and Yigermal (Yogi) Dalge. We sat down with Kade and Yogi to discuss where they're at today and where they want to be in the future.

What school are you currently attending and what are you studying? 

Kade: I'm headed into my freshman year at Texas A&M in College Station. I'm planning on studying Computer Engineering. 

Yogi: I attend University of North Texas (UNT) and I'm studying Computer Science. 

What are you most excited for on campus? 

Kade: If I'm being honest, I'm really excited for the football games, but I can't wait to just get on campus and take it all in. I'll get to meet new people, network, and get involved in clubs, intramurals, and freshmen led organizations. You know so many people say A&M is a cult but I prefer to call it a big family. Ha! I dabble in day trading, too, so I'm excited to get into those clubs and working with like-minded people.

Yogi:  I really enjoy the community and to be able to talk with my friends about our future plans, what we wanna do when we graduate. That and my campus job are real motivators for me. I'm a part of campus clubs, too, so involvement in clubs and campus jobs really create that community and I love the community that creates a sense of belonging for us. I'm also a founder and member of a computer science club that helps get college students ready for job interviews and give them materials to motivate them along the way when getting a job. So I'm excited to get back into that. 

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why? 

Kade: I have to think about this, but I think ultimately it would be Stephen Hawking. Whenever I was little, I used to be obsessed with black holes and the theories of black holes. My mom introduced me to Stephen Hawking's book and, at first, I could barely comprehend the stuff,  but I would just keep on reading until I sort of got it.  I was just so fascinated by it. I always thought I was gonna end up being a physicist or be a cosmologist. I like to be challenged and it would be interesting to talk to him!

Yogi: I would say Elon Musk and I say that because I'm very, I guess, very much astonished by what he does with automobiles and with space  and all that. I say that because especially like with the cars, that really helps the disabled community.  I admire what his technologies are able to do with cars because I have seen disabled people like me that might not have the strength to drive or even further disabilities like those who are paralyzed are able to drive cars because of his work. So I love what he does because it is inclusive to the disabled community.

What inspired you to pursue a career in that technology field? Why are you passionate about technology specifically? 

Kade: Whenever I was little, I would see these things about people who make video games for a living and I'm thought, "gosh, wouldn't that be the dream?" because everybody loves video games. But then, once I actually did my research, I found out the possibilities of the technology which you can create and what you can do is so broad. There's so many possibilities and where you can help people and make things more efficient and just help people in general. I needed to narrow down what I liked about it. So when I was taking my first coding class in high school, at first, I thought it was so hard and just so confusing. But after I sat down and tried to focus, I found out it was really cool. I got to say that I made this and then you make your first program and even if it doesn't work, you get to work with it and figure it out. After you debug it and  finally find that one character that's off and it works, it's like the best thing ever.
And I remember it was a horrible video game but I was so proud of it, like "I did that." I made that! 
You can sit down and just work and watch it come all together and you can really go from just making video games to making like things that will help everybody like communities and the world around you. 

Yogi: Technology helps people make their lives easier by providing them with the necessary equipment. Plus it constantly changes. Like whenever we talk about technology, we talk about like the future, but technology is already changing so many lives. And so it's nice to contribute to that by stating what I'm studying and really pay it forward . Like with the phones, for instance, when we didn't have a touch screen phone, it would be so difficult for me to use my phone. I'm not able to push buttons so I need the touch screen and FaceID.  All these things might seem like just a small thing, but it really plays a huge part in my life in  a positive way. It's an enabler, so I like that aspect about it.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

Kade: I'll just be getting out of college. Hopefully I've done a couple of internships, like hopefully one here.
Honestly, I see myself coming out of college with a bunch of new knowledge and entering the workforce in the technology industry and trying to network myself and work towards building my own company. I guess similar to Centre, like almost similar to Microsoft, like selling hardware, software and generating revenue. My goal would be meeting new people and not only getting experience but learning knowledge that I don't have from people that already have that knowledge.

Yogi: I'm hoping to graduate soon, maybe in a couple of semesters, and then be able to get a full time job. I want to pay it forward to my family, especially to my parents, who have given the most contribution to my education It started as the way for me to be able to even come to this country and do this interview and so just to become a software engineer at any company and be able to help people and pay it forward to the people I care about.

What will you be able to do now that you could not prior to receiving the Kathy Pace Scholarship? 

Kade: So I mean this might be obvious, but when going into college, it's a lot of money and before I got this scholarship, I was planning on having to get a job and having to work part time while also being in college and have a full schedule. But this scholarship enables me to fully focus on accomplishing my goals, not the financial side of school. It allows me to do more of what I want to do and ultimately, enjoying my experience when our college. So I think it, I think it indirectly is allowing me to focus more and directly helping me be more successful and getting my degree and keeping my GPA without stressing myself out. 

Yogi: So it's obvious that it's gonna help me with my tuition in my incoming academic semester.
Without it, I would not be able to probably attend UNT right now in the fall, so it takes away the stress from having to pay for school and just focus on my studies so that I can continue to maintain my GPA and to be on track to graduate on time.

Any advice you have for those aspiring to get into the field of technology? 

Kade: I would you say like dive right in. I remember my first coding class, I was kind of nervous, thinking I didn't know what I was going to like. I thought it was hard, unsure of whether or not I should even try to give it my all, but once I actually decided to go full in , it was awesome. Like technology, jumping in is hard, but you have to do it. It's going to be difficult at some point, but if you just keep trying and keep doing new things, you'll get so much more out of it. If you put everything in, you're going to get just as much out of it
And I think that another thing would be like keep your mind open like technology has so many different opportunities and things that you can do with it that always you stay creative.
Don't take the blinders off, as my dad would say.

Yogi:  I would say that even just starting up might be difficult. Whenever you starts something, it will usually be difficult at first.  It might be difficult financially, or is that economic side of it, but it doesn't mean it is insurmountable. So despite the challenges, you can overcome those challenges. Your present situation does not mean it's gonna be your destiny, your final point. Keep pursuing what you're doing, and someday you're going to succeed! 

One of the requirements of the scholarship is to demonstrate how you plan to contribute to the next generation of technology professionals. We maintain you need to possess the compassion and commitment to use technology as a tool to improve the world we live in. With these characteristics and technology, how do you plan to change or improve the world we live in? 

Kade: Besides the financial assistance, this scholarship helps me accomplish larger goals as well. I want to help younger classmen and mentor them on knowledge they mayor may not have as well as learn things from them. This scholarship will give me the opportunity to build my expertise, knowledge, and, in turn, give back to the Houston communities. There's a lack of technology, resources, and knowledge in some places, so I want to work on that and resolve the issue, bringing more resources to schools that may not have the resources or knowledge. My goal is to promote and teach the younger generations about the benefits of choosing STEM programs.

Yogi: I think we can play an inspiring role in he next generation by using what we've been given and by not taking it for granted. Hold ourselves accountable, and don't forget that somebody out there is expecting something from us. That can be the next generation or the people around us currently. See that we don't only value our school, but we value what happened before we came to the point we're at now. Never forget where you came from or where you're going! 

Any additional thoughts or information you want to share with our Centre #ONETEAM and blog audiences? 

Kade: I just like to say I mean to y'all's team, thank you so much for opportunity. I'd like to thank my parents, myself and all my friends and my peers around me for keeping me in check and pushing me and supporting me and making sure that I achieved my goals. I'd also like to thank God for giving me blessings and helping me get here. For the people reading this blog: work hard. If you're gonna do it for anybody, do for yourself because nobody is going to support you or love you like you're gonna love yourself.

Yogi: I'm so grateful for this opportunity. It's very important for my academic journey and so I'm so grateful for this and it's inspiring me to continue to make a great impact to the community around me and to continue to be involved in my community so I can actually pay it forward. But from the bottom of my heart I'm so grateful and appreciative of your belief in me, and that's gonna go a long ways for me.

We look forward to seeing Kade and Yogi innovate and revolutionize the future of technology. But for now, we wish them continued success in their educational endeavors. If you or someone you know would be interested in the Kathy Pace scholarship program, keep any eye out for next year's scholarship window.  You can visit the Kathy Pace Scholarship webpage for more information on how to apply next year!

Originally published on August 22, 2023