Although Gabby Tavera prefers reading and the outdoors, she recently made her mark in the computer world.
The 17-year-old Jacksonville High School student is one of six top finalists in the United States Competition on Microsoft Office for students and will represent the United States in Microsoft Excel 2007 at the final round of the Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office. The competition is slated for July 29 to Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.
“It’s been exciting again for us this year being the second time in a row to send a student,” Jacksonville High School teacher Chuck Silvertooth said. “She’s got the tools to be successful.”
Then, in the first week of June, she was informed that she was a finalist for Excel 2007.
There were 250,000 who competed worldwide for the entire year leading up to the competition, and Gabby competed against about 50,000 of those for the Excel 2007 category. She likely will be one of four competitors in her division at the worldwide competition.
Gabby said she didn’t think she would get chosen as a finalist but was hopeful.
“When I got the call, I was excited. I literally screamed,” she said.
The teen, who will be a senior in the fall, did not take an interest in computers until she got to high school.
“It taught me how to do more things with (Microsoft) Excel and (Microsoft) PowerPoint …” Gabby said.
“I enjoy the challenge. You want to be first and accurate so you challenge yourself to memorize and learn how to do things without messing up.”
Last time, she was able to complete a 17-question test in three or four minutes.
Now, she’s looking forward to the possibility of winning at the worldwide competition and potentially seeing Las Vegas sites. And because her parents can’t go, she’s taking her cousin.
“I’m excited and nervous because it’s a competition, and competition always makes a person nervous because you never know if you’re going to do good or not,” she said.
“Not too many people know about it. To get prepared, you just have to practice a lot until you get good enough. Then when you get good, you have to time yourself.”
No matter how well she performs, it’s still an opportunity to travel, meet other people and potentially win a scholarship, she said. Scholarship money is awarded to the top three winners in each of the competition’s divisions.
“The goal is to be in first place because it means you’re the fastest,” Gabby said. “It’s about time and accuracy … They give you questions to do, certain things on a spreadsheet. They could give you an equation to average data or ask you to look at the formula and change things.”
In the future, Gabby wants to go to college close to home and is looking at The University of Texas at Tyler. She wants to be a counseling psychologist but also has an interest in computers.