ABOVE: Jones Mays II
Congratulations to Carnegie Vanguard High School student Jones Mays II, 17, who won first place for his app honoring his late grandfather, which he submitted as a first-time participant as part of Apple’s Swift Student Challenge. As the first-place winner, Mays delivered a keynote address at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) this past Sunday, June 5th.
Mays was selected as a challenge winner from a pool of more than 350 students from 40 countries and regions who have been selected as 2022 challenge winners.
When Mays designed his winning Swift Playgrounds submission, an app called Ivy, he found inspiration in his own roots.
“My grandfather had a garden that he loved, and he grew so much food that he just allowed people from the community to come in and grab what they needed,” said Mays, who is about to start his senior year of high school here in Houston. “Even though he couldn’t walk at the end of his life, he used to point and that’s where I’d put down the seeds for him. But we always had to try to get rid of the kudzu vine—it was an ongoing fight.”
Mays decided to create an app that honored his grandfather, who passed away a few years ago, by helping other gardeners identify and get rid of invasive plants like kudzu.
“I’ve just really enjoyed being able to build programs that are able to display my creativity and passion in a fun and easy way,” said Mays. “Swift has been a big part of that — I discovered it about a year ago and I love how easy it is to use.”
This summer, Mays is helping others learn programming languages like Swift.
“I’ll be teaching the next generation of students what it means to learn computer science,” said Mays. “Because I truly believe that when you’re able to learn computer science, you are able to apply that to so many other fields.”
It’s no surprise to Mays that teaching has become part of his journey—he comes from a long line of educators, which include his mother, brother, and his late grandfather, who Mays thinks would approve of the app created in his honor.
“He was a man of few words,” said Mays. “But I think he’d say, ‘Squirt, you did a good job.’”
Mays is harnessing the power of coding to create apps that help solve problems in his community.
Every year, in the lead-up to Apple’s WWDC, young people from around the globe use Swift Playgrounds to showcase their coding skills. The Swift Student Challenge is just one part of Apple’s WWDC, along with the keynote, events, labs, and workshops available online and free to the over-30-million-strong global Apple developer community.
Apple is a proud supporter focused on uplifting the next generation of developers, creators, and entrepreneurs through its annual WWDC student program. Over the past three decades, thousands of students have built successful careers in technology, founded venture-backed startups, and created organizations focused on democratizing technology and innovating to build a better future.