Scholarship 2008

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Fedora Scholarship 2008

Max Spevack interviewed Ricky Zhou, the inaugural recipient of the Fedora Scholarship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where are you located? What are some of the more interesting classes that you took in high school?

I'm currently 18, having just graduated from the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey. In high school, my favorite classes included Math, Computer Science, and Physics, but I also enjoyed other activities, like singing in the choir and competing in math team.

When and how did you become involved with Linux and/or free software?

I first became aware of Linux and open source software around 6th or 7th grade, when I started playing around with Apache and Perl for fun. Around the end of 7th grade, I was really lucky to meet a professor at LIU (a parent at my middle school) who gave me some web programming projects to work on over the next two summers. This is pretty much when I first started to really use Linux (Red Hat Linux 9) and other OSS software for work/fun.

Looking back, I was always captivated by the professor's enthusiasm for his research and his contributions to the scientific community. Part of what draws me to Fedora's community is this same feeling of excitement and pride in everything that we do.

What made you want to actually contribute to OSS, and what led you to the Fedora Project?

I've always wanted to give back to OSS in some way or other -- before I started working with Fedora, I spent a lot of time giving end user support on IRC, and I also helped out on GNOME's web team for a while. When I started contributing to Fedora, I was really impressed by the fast pace of development, as well as the "go for it!" attitude towards making things happen. Overall, everybody that I've worked with has made it really easy and enjoyable to contribute, and this has always motivated me to keep doing more.

Tell us about some of the Fedora contributions that you are most proud of. Don't be shy!

I started out helping the Websites team by working on the Fedora 7 website update and theming some of our various sites and applications. After speaking with Dimitris Glezos and seeing the work that he'd done with localization in Fedora, I also worked on making our website translatable, which has hopefully made Fedora a bit more accessible to the world :-).

Apart from Websites work, I've also been working on various tasks with the Infrastructure team -- mostly helping to administer some of our servers, and helping to develop web applications. A while ago, Toshio Kuratomi, Mike McGrath, and I have worked on improving the new contributor experience with the Fedora Account System (and also porting a lot of our applications to work with it).

More recently, I've gotten involved in packaging (and doing a review or two). I'd like to gain a better understanding of how Fedora is actually created, and hopefully, I'll have a bit more time to explore and learn about this over the summer :-).

Where are you going to college, and what do you think you will study?

I'm looking forward to attending Carnegie Mellon University (the School of Computer Science) in the fall. Apart from computer science, I'll probably go for a minor in some area of mathematics.

Cool thing: I actually got my computer/email accounts recently, and it's interesting to see that they are using Fedora in some places :-).

Have you started to think beyond your undergraduate days yet? Do you have in the back of your mind a career that you'd like to pursue?

I've only thought a tiny bit about it. Right now, a career in some sort of research looks very appealing, but I have no idea how my thoughts will change throughout college (hopefully, I'll have a good chance to explore and see what kind of work I enjoy most). I definitely like the idea of working closely with some sort of large community (such as the scientific/academic community, or the open source community).