An Auburn University (AU) freshman from Geraldine, Alabama, proved when it comes to computers, he’s world class.
Last December, Seth Maddox was a senior at Geraldine High School when he stumbled across a contest for students 13-22 years old sponsored by Certiport, a company that trains people for Microsoft Office program certification. He entered the PowerPoint portion of the contest almost by accident.
“I sort of entered the contest on a whim,” said Maddox, who used the Microsoft program at school and for his church, Baltimore Avenue Church of God in Albertville. “In fact, it was the last day to enter the contest. About a week later, I received an email saying I was the Alabama state champion and was eligible to compete in the national contest in Orlando.”
In June, he clinched the national championship by outscoring top competitors from across the country in a series of tests using the popular presentation software. He won $3,000 and an invitation to the international contest in New York City in July. The three-day competition, which was designed by Certiport, was held near Times Square.
Maddox competed against students from 50 countries. While his contest focused on PowerPoint, other students competed in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Two other U.S. students were top-three finishers in their contests, but Maddox was the only American to win first place.
Maddox said he thought he did well in the competition, but when he was announced the winner, his family’s reaction is what he remembers most.
“My family was way more excited than I was,” said Maddox, who was accompanied by his parents, Crossville Alfa Insurance Agent Dan Maddox and his wife, Tara; and older brother Luke, also an AU student. “My parents have been my biggest cheerleaders through all of this. Whether I won or lost, they were going to be there to coach me along this journey.”
As the international winner, Maddox took home a $7,000 cash prize, a Surface Laptop 2, a medal and a trophy. Less tangible things, like the friends he made from around the world, will last a lifetime.
“In addition to the contest, there was a dance and social events where the students had the opportunity to meet each other,” Maddox said. “There was a group of students from New Zealand that I particularly enjoyed meeting. Hearing them talk and interact with each other was fun. Listening to others from around the world talk in different languages was an interesting experience, too.”
After a world championship, adjusting to life as a college student has been pleasant but challenging, said Maddox, who is an Alfa Foundation scholarship recipient studying computer engineering.
He’s already contemplating life after college graduation.
“I would really like to design computer components,” he said. “The whole idea of creating a circuit and making things work is awesome to me. Maybe I could work for a big-name company like Microsoft one day or even a small company. As long as I’m working on computers and building things, I’ll be happy.”