White House to honor CA students who created app for college applications

WATSONVILLE, California —A weeklong hackathon at UC Santa Cruz over the summer produced a mobile app that helps students navigate through college applications.

Six months and dozens of downloads later, a group of Watsonville High School students is being nationally recognized for its work.

“It went from just a bunch of friends at a camp creating an app, to this. I didn’t think get it would be that big, and now we’re meeting people in D.C. That’s really, really good,” said junior Erick Brigham.

The app, called WHS College Mentor, will be presented to the White House Office of Science and Technology and members of Congress.

“The thing about going to the nation’s capital and presenting in front of leaders who paved the way for you is awesome. It’s an honor to be there,” said senior Marcus Cisneros.

The app has a simple interface that makes it easy for users to access information. It allows college-bound students access to important test dates, financial aid deadlines and ways to write a good admissions essay.

It was this usability that got the attention of the Entertainment Software Association and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, which awards grants for students to create video games and apps that promote social change.

“It’s kind of unexpected because we did it because we thought it was fun to do something new and and try out,” said senior Paolo Magana. “We never thought (we would) actually get recognized.”

Two student representatives will fly to the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

The students also received a $2,000 grant that will be use to further develop the app to include a video game element.

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