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The Apple of His Eye

Featured Photo from The Apple of His Eye

Oviedo high-schooler gets a surprise visit from Apple CEO Tim Cook and a prestigious scholarship to attend the company’s iconic developers conference in California.

Liam Rosenfeld of Oviedo looked around the auditorium in the San Jose McEnery Convention Center as he waited with countless others for the start of the renowned keynote address at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). To Liam and the assembled crowd, this was ground zero of the tech world. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who paid Liam a special visit in Orlando last month, was about to take the stage and announce the latest and the greatest from the consumer-electronics giant.

“I am extremely excited,” Liam said prior to the conference. And once Tim Cook took the stage, Liam reports you could immediately feel the electricity in the air. “It was surreal,” he says. 

And so continued a dream come true for the 16-year-old rising junior, enrolled in the engineering magnet program at Lyman High School. Here he was, a part of WWDC, mingling with some of the greatest tech minds in the world. Each day that followed during the first week of June brought Liam a new and heightened awareness of technological advances and a chance to interact with others who share his passion.

Liam’s journey to WWDC began when most Americans were scrambling to file their taxes. On April 15, Liam received word that Apple granted him a scholarship to attend the conference in San Jose, California. 

To put that in perspective, Liam was one of only 350 men and women to receive a scholarship out of 15,000 high-school and college applicants across the world. Beyond a scholarship, the only other way to attend the conference is to enter a lottery, and if chosen, pay $1,599 for tickets.

Go West, Young Man
Liam, who had never been to the West Coast or attended a conference of this magnitude, arrived in California with his dad, Eric, on Saturday, June 1. He checked into his dorm at San Jose University, and his adventure began Sunday at an orientation for scholarship recipients. From June 3 to 7, many sessions centered on Tim Cook’s release points at the keynote, specifically SwiftUI, Apple’s new user interface framework. 

“It was really interesting to see how the internals of the company function,” Liam says. “And I was able to ask Apple engineers a lot of technical questions during labs. It really gave me the opportunity to grow as a programmer.” 

One day found Liam meeting with the head of Apple’s AP computer science curriculum.

“We talked about how we could effectively teach SwiftUI next year at Lyman,” Liam explains. “I am taking the AP computer science principles class next year, and I hope we can integrate the SwiftUI curriculum.”

In his scholarship application, Liam wrote about his coding aptitude and the development of his own app, Image to ASCII Art. The app and the application intrigued the powers-that-be at Apple, and a surprise visit in May by CEO Tim Cook was set in motion. Tim was originally scheduled to meet Liam at Lyman, but logistics forced the meet-and-greet to take place at the Apple Store at The Mall at Millenia.

“It was really unbelievable meeting Tim Cook,” recalls Liam. “I did not fully wrap my head around it until the next day sitting in chemistry class.”  

Mike Rice, Lyman High’s principal, could not be prouder of Liam for not only earning the scholarship, but for how his talents attracted the CEO of Apple.

“It has been awesome to see him shine for us,” says Mike. “We want that for all students – that they will shine. All we do here is try to develop their futures. We really believe in allowing our students to feel empowered.” 

While Liam is still unsure of his career goals or what college he would like to attend, he is certain that he wants future WWDCs to be part of his life.

“I learned a ton, and I made friends with fellow scholars,” he says. “I am definitely going to apply for a scholarship next year.”

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