LOWELL | When Josh Bustamante learned Tri-Creek School Corp. was replacing its computers with Macs, he saw an opportunity to help the Lowell Adult Learning Center.
That was June 2012.
"He took this and kept on it month by month by month," said Mickey Grant, vice president of Learning and Technology for the Center for Workforce Innovations Inc., which operates the Lowell Adult Learning Center.
In the end, Bustamante was able to obtain five computers that he upgraded and donated to the Lowell center.
Grant said she was impressed with Bustamante and his grasp of how education contributes to the quality of life in a community.
"The minute I walked in, I realized it was a big deal. ... They all want to further their education," Bustamante said of students at the Lowell Adult Learning Center.
The center helps students working toward their GED learn basic English and math skills.
Jay Blackman, director of information and educational technology for the district, was one of the first people contacted by Bustamante.
"He approached me with his idea ... which I felt was a great show of initiative to help with a community need," Blackman said.
"Josh was very open and active in working between the LALC and my office throughout the process of selecting the equipment, testing it and setting up per their requirements," he said.
Blackman's assistance made the project possible, Bustamante said.
In September, an admittedly nervous Bustamante went before the Tri-Creek School Board to seek its support of the project and received a thumbs up.
Bustamante's mother, Casandra Bustamante, is proud of her soft-spoken and modest son, she said.
"He could have flown to the moon today, and he'd say he went for a ride," she said. "He's been taking stuff apart since he was a little kid. Sometimes, we would break things just to see him put them back together."
A two-year employee of Gigahertz, a computer repair business in Lowell, Bustamante will be heading to Purdue University West Lafayette to study computer and information technology. He received and academic scholarship from the Purdue Alumni Fund.
"Josh has a bright future as a technology leader," Blackman said.
The bulk of the project was completed during his senior year, when Bustamante was enrolled at Lowell High School and Cisco and Ivy Tech Community College, which have partnerships with the school district. He also was on the honor roll, worked his Gigahertz job and threw discus for the high school varsity track team.
Grant said Bustamante is an impressive young man whose contribution has made a difference for his community.
"He is delightful," she said.