Dominic Stipe remembers the feeling when he flipped the on switch to the computer he’d just finished building.
“When I first booted that PC up, it felt like Heaven. I felt like I’d accomplished the world,” Stipe said.
He was only a freshman at the time, but it set him upon the path that will see him arrive at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette this fall with an eye on earning an electrical engineering degree, with a concentration on computer engineering.
“(Building the computer) sparked something in me,” Stipe said. “I found something I really loved doing, and that interest kept growing and growing as I kept messing with more and more computers as my high school career went on. It took my mind off of stress and all of the things life was throwing at me at the time. I realized I can go to school for something that I love doing.”
“I am always about trying new things. I was looking at it and thought it didn’t look too hard, so let me take it up and see what happens,” Stipe said.
He was a well-rounded student at Hahnville, with strong grades and a healthy slate of extracurricular activities to his credit. He was a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Spanish National Honor Society, Art Honor Society and Student Council while maintaining his studies and working a job after school.
Stipe said he was able to handle all of it as a senior because he was especially driven during his final year – the first, he notes, that he and his fellow seniors were able to enjoy the full high-school experience.
“You arrive as a freshman, and it’s an adjustment from middle school,” Stipe said. “You adjust – but then COVID happens. In 10th grade, we go to school every other day, and you’re working classes from home – and that’s a completely different experience. You have to do a lot more on your own. Sometimes it was difficult to grasp what we were learning like that.
“Then in junior year, I crammed all my AP courses and it’s another natural disaster, and we’re two plus months out of school … you never got fully comfortable.”
It wasn’t what he nor any of his classmates could have hoped for, which made him all the more determined to make his 2022-23 school year one to remember.
“I think there was a point I lost focus, but once it was my senior year, it was completely rekindled. My head was screwed on the right way. I’m not letting this year go by like I did in the 10th and 11th grade. It’s time to focus up, and that led me to where I am now.”
His ability to refocus himself paid off in a big way as he earned his way to scholarship offers and new opportunities.
Stipe also credited his mother and father for helping spur him down his productive path.
“They kept me pushing. They kept reinforcing the idea that if I wanted to broaden my horizons and expand my future, college is one of the best ways to do it. And they also made sure I understood that if I’m not going for free, they aren’t paying for it – I had to take the initiative. And I’m going to college for free now.