For this episode of Community Conversations we spoke with Jack Dumoulin, a rising senior at Forest Park High School that recently won the national and world championships for Excel 2016.
Q: Tell me about this award that you recently won.
A: So I won the 2017 Microsoft Office Excel 2016 category World Championship in Anaheim, California. And there were about 200 competitors there in Anaheim, out of a total of about 2.2 million submitted entries, in order to apply for this competition. The top 200 were in Anaheim, and I placed first in the category of Excel 2016.
Q: So what do you actually have to do in the competition?
A: So in the competition – I can start by telling you how I got into this, first of all. I was taking a class at Forest Park High School to earn an Excel certification for my transcript. And I had gotten the highest score in the state of Virginia on the certification test. And I had walked into class and my teacher said, ‘You’ve qualified for a national competition run by the company Certiport, that makes all of the certification tests.’ And it was in Orlando, Florida, at the end of the school year. I took the certification test around December last year.
She said, ‘There’s going to be the finalists from all the states in the U.S.’ and there’s six different categories that were gonna be there – there was Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for the 2013 modules, and then Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for the 2016 models. So I was competing in the category of Excel 2016. And of course, I’d never heard of any Microsoft competition before, this is kind of a new atmosphere for me because I play varsity baseball, so I’m on the varsity team there at Forest Park. And I’m more used to that athletic competitive nature, but now this is more of an academic type competitive nature that I just got into, going into these competitions and seeing the type of competitiveness and all of the drive that these kids have to compete.
So when I went down to Orlando, for the national championship, it was all the other people who won the state championship for their states. And there, instead of certification test, where they give you Excel projects and you make changes to them. Showing the different skills that you know. This one you have to recreate an entire spreadsheet from scratch by using the data that they give you from a company. They’ll give you a sample data – financial data, like data on weather, like snowfall or something like that. And you have to use the guidelines they give you, which incorporates all of the tasks you need to know of how to use Excel, into recreating this spreadsheet and you get 50 minutes to do it. And whoever is the most accurate, and then after that it comes down to time – that’s the tiebreaker within the 50 minutes – wins.
Q: So, tell me about the world championship.
A: So, at the world championship we had like an opening reception there, and that’s where all the countries and all of the teams coming from there, get a really firsthand experience meeting everyone that’s there. And it’s really amazing to see all of the large groups that come from these countries. Like I said, you get six representatives, because of the six categories from each country, but a lot of the countries coming from like Asia and Europe – they bring large groups of people liked media, and like their own leaders, and they have their own teams with their own uniforms and things like that. It’s just crazy to see, because a lot of these kids train for their whole life for this and when you go up to meet them, they’re all really friendly, except when they found out which category you’re competing in and they bring forward that competitor that’s there. You can see the fire and that wanting in their eyes to win this, and you know that they’ve been training a lot.
Here in the U.S. I have a lot of things going on – I have sports, I’m in Boy Scouts, and I work part-time at a Chick-fil-a, and I also have to keep my grades up for school. These kids – this is everything to them. This is – Excel is, PowerPoint, Word – this is what they’ve been striving and working for, for a long time. So, to come here means a lot to them. And just being there was an honor for me and being in the top 200 in the world was crazy, but now being the top one for Excel is just a wonderful experience. So I’m glad I was able to have it and bring it home for the U.S.A.
Q: So, what actually got you started and interested in using Excel?
A: What started getting me interested in using Excel was, like I said I play baseball – I’m a big baseball fanatic – I started using Microsoft products, like Word and PowerPoint in elementary school. And I got more into Excel in middle school when I really started getting into in-depth with baseball, and I liked to create rosters and track statistics, and I might have to do some science and mathematics for school – middle school. I would use Excel to work all of those math problems out. I would do some baseball statistics for my project instead of your normal science projects for school. So I would use Excel to track those numbers, so that’s kind of what got me into using Excel.
And then more as I got like a better smart phone, I started tracking statistics more on my cell phone. But when I had the opportunity in high school to get a certification for the Microsoft products, I was like ‘I could take this class and it could be really helpful for me in my future’. And I got back in using Excel again. And then the whole certification test thing happened, and that’s what started this whole journey.
Q: So, you actually won a few awards. Just tell me about the – just tell me the top part of the three awards you won, and you also won some money to actually put toward college.
A: I did. So like I said, I got the state championship, there’s a certificate I got for that. But then at the national competition, there was the top 124 finalists with the six different categories I mentioned out of the 320,000 entries from the U.S. The applicants competing in the U.S. And there I won first place for Excel. They gave me the U.S. national championship trophy, the medal, and a check for $3,000. It’s very nice to put towards my college fund. And then an all expense paid trip to Anaheim for the world competition, where I would represent the entire country against Microsoft’s best users around the world.
And then this past weekend – not this past weekend, it was last Monday, Tuesday – I competed in the world competition in Anaheim, and there it was against Japan, China, Korea, Kenya, Morocco, over 49, 50 countries were there. And just the top 200 out of 2.2 million applicants, and I claimed first place there for the U.S.A., and got the trophy, another medal for the world championship, and $7,000.
Q: You are an Eagle Scout. You’ve obviously been in the Boy Scout program for a while. Has Boy Scouts helped you at all, for prepping for these competitions?
A: Definitely. Boy Scouts is one of the things that has been able to spark my interest, and give me a great, great experience as to working with the STEM merit badges and programs – science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s really where I got my full ability to be able to go out and experience things involving those subjects. And especially the technology piece, I’ve worked with the programming merit badge, we do our troop calendar for Boy Scouts – I do that using Excel – my mom and I, we put that on for our troop. So we use Excel, to be able to put that calendar together.
And it’s really broadened me – it’s not always just your normal outdoors – we’ve got some really smart Scouts in the program. And the ability that Boy Scouts gives you, to be able to go out and not just learn the skills of survival, and first aid, and character. You can also learn academic stuff as well and put your academic skills to use, because Boy Scouts – we’re the future leaders of the world, and a lot of those future leaders of the world they need knowledge. They need to know how to go out there in the world and succeed with all of this up and coming technology that is now the way of the world. And why not better than have some of our finest charactered young men in the Boy Scouts, than to be able to pursue those technology careers in society? So it’s definitely broadened my view.
Q: With your experience with Boy Scouts, if you wants to give just one piece of advice – whether it be to the kids or their parents who are thinking about coming in Boy Scouts – what’s one thing you would say as what would make it worth it?
A: I would say what would make it worth it is definitely the experiences you’ll learn, and being able to – in this opportunity in Boy Scouts – you only get one shot in your life to be able to go into the Boy Scout program and learn it, and I can tell you, I’ve probably learned many things even in Boy Scouts that are helpful for my own life than I have in school. You learn so many neat things that all of your other peers don’t know. I’ll be amazed – I’ll just be hanging out with friends somewhere, and I’ll show them how to do something or they need to know how to do something, and nobody knows but I do, because I’m an Eagle Scout. It’s in that moment that it all pays off, because you’re the hero of the day, you got the job done.
But it’s also that sense of pride and honor that you wear when you get the Eagle badge and you get the Eagle neckerchief and everything at the end of the journey, that you are an Eagle Scout, because it’s a lot of responsibility, but it transforms you from a young boy into a young man with all of the character and experiences that you go through Boy Scouts. I would say is you really want your son, your child, or your student going up through middle school and high school, getting ready for college and the real world, Boy Scouts is the program that I would have them in to be able to prepare them to be able to go out into the real world and make a difference.
Q: As you’re getting ready to – I’ll call it – you know, getting into another chapter of your life, you’re thinking about college. What are you interested in taking in college?
A: In college, I’m looking more towards the business and computers, among other things. Those are more of the classes I take at Forest Park and I’m pretty interested in that. Maybe some medicine. Again, working with first aid in Boy Scouts has given me a first step ahead to skills you would need to know in the medial field and I also have a lot of medical background in my family. So that’s always been there, but right now my primary focus would be business and working with computers and that sort of aspect.
Check back for the next episode of Community Conversations.