Achiever: Jason Bays | Eastern High student ranked 5th worldwide in Microsoft competition
By Elaine Rooker Jack
September 5, 2010
Jason Bays, 15, said he's always loved technology and began playing on computers with his father when he was very small.
His enthusiasm paid off. Jason got the highest score in the country on the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel 2003 Exam in February. He went on to compete in the 2010 Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office in August and ranked fifth in the world.
Jason lives off Taylorsville Road near Stony Brook with his parents, Dawn and Harold Bays, and younger brother Kevin. He is a sophomore at Eastern High School.
The certification exam Jason took was created by Certiport and was administered as part of his IC³ class at Eastern High School.
"Certification is important on job applications and college applications," Jason said. "Eastern is really great; when you take advanced courses you get to take the tests for free. That saves you hundreds — or thousands — to take the tests.
"Eastern is great for technology; that's why I applied there," Jason said.
Eastern High teacher John Lanham called Jason "a very bright and intuitive student."
"He's a natural explorer and problem-solver; when we learned he had the fastest perfect Excel 2003 score in the country, we were elated, but not surprised."
At the time Jason took the certification test "there was a box you checked if you'd like to be entered in the worldwide competition," Jason said. He received an e-mail that he'd qualified for the chance to go to Utah in August for the global competition. "There were people there from all over — Mexico, Brazil, Canada — 13 countries," he said. "I was the youngest one there."
Jason said he enjoyed meeting the other contestants, despite the fact that language was sometimes a problem.
Contestants had 50 minutes to complete instructions using Microsoft Office.
"We were all on computers, and the computer tells you what to do and checks your work," he said.
The tests were designed to demonstrate the students' ability to create, analyze and format data in Microsoft Excel.
The tasks had "fake data that could be real and you'd have to sort it to only show this model or things above this price," Jason said. "It told you what to do but you had to know how to do it.
"I'm a pretty laid-–back guy," he added. "I don't get nervous; I just take whatever happens."
But Jason admitted that "when you get in there with all these people, when the person next to you is working in Japanese and he's going really fast and you're stuck on a question" it's nerve-wracking. "But before and after I was fine."
Jason Bays with Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
Jason received a plaque from Certiport and a new Xbox 360, Office Professional 2010, a new keyboard and mouse set and a Zune HD from Microsoft. He also received clothing and other items with logos from both companies.
"I can't get enough technology," he said. "Microsoft Office is used in so many things, and I'm able to say, 'I can do this' and I can help people with it."
"Clearly, these students have spent countless hours getting up to speed on Microsoft Office and with certified skills that enable them to enter the work force, they are all winners," Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the Office Product Management Group, said in a statement.
Jason hopes to study at MIT or Stanford and is interested in careers in information technology, Web administration or possibly a position with Microsoft.
"They were so nice," he said. "I never thought about a job in Office, but after seeing how it works in real life, I might."