Tech whiz kid wins Taco Bell $


RECIPIENT—Jordan Shin, center, holds a check for $25,000 from Taco Bell Foundation. Courtesy photo

RECIPIENT—Jordan Shin, center, holds a check for $25,000 from Taco Bell Foundation. Courtesy photo

Jordan Shin, an 18-year-old graduate of Agoura High School, is the recipient of a $25,000 Live Más scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation.

A Calabasas resident and part-time employee at Taco Bell in Woodland Hills, Shin is taking a gap year before beginning studies in computer science this fall at the UC Irvine UCI Campuswide Honors Collegium.

He won the scholarship by submitting a two-minute video about his passion for game development comprising the elements of coding, music and art.

“During his gap year, he has been working part-time at Taco Bell, said Shin’s mother, Ann Park. “The franchise owner and Jordan’s amazing boss encouraged him to apply for the scholarship, which is open to all, not just employees, and he was lucky to be one of the few $25,000 winners.

The Taco Bell Foundation invited Jordan to headquarters in Irvine last week for an interview which turned out to actually be a surprise celebration for him,” she said.

The mom credits her son’s computer science teacher at Agoura High, Joseph Keays, for piquing the boy’s interest in math and programming.

“Jordan is extremely curious,” Keays told The Acorn in a 2021 article about the boy. “If he wants to know something he doesn’t wait for someone to teach him; he learns it on his own.”

By the time he was a sophomore, Shin was already an accomplished coder able to navigate nine coding languages and create engaging video games in a matter of hours.

The then 15-year-old Jordan won first place at a national hackathon—a time-based coding competition—in which he competed against 63 other participants.

“He’s going to have a tremendous future and success. He’s going to go to some university at a very high level, and people are going to recognize his talents, which only blossom with more and more people challenging him to rise to the occasion,” Keays said.

“The Live Más Scholarship is for students who are pursuing higher education, preparing for the workforce, or using their passion to ignite change in their communities and beyond,” the company said.

John Loesing