The Hardest Choice of my Life

The Hardest Choice of my Life

Justin Duino Photographer

When I first applied to come to the University of Nevada, Reno, I was in the midst of making my startup news publication profitable. This business had never been a part of my plans but fell together rather quickly in the late part of my junior year of high school. The only problem now was that I had this entirely different opportunity for myself which changed how I looked at college.

Growing up, I had two college-educated parents who always pushed me to do my best in the hopes of getting into a good college and starting a career after graduation. After starting my own business, though, I began to wonder if I needed a degree. Here I was, a 17-years-old kid who had only been driving for over a year, and I had to make this life altering decision on which direction I would take: college or take a risk and continue growing my company.

College always seemed like the smarter choice to make. I was always told that college would be where I found the one thing in life that I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life. Instead, for me, it was another four years that I would be stuck in classrooms instead of out trying to be successful at something.

If I chose to stay in my hometown and continue working on my business, I knew I would not have the support of my parents. My father, being a business owner himself, loved that I had found something that I enjoyed entirely but viewed it as a hobby and much less than a full-time career option.  My mother, a woman who loved college for the education and breezed through it, saw my business as a waste of time. Obviously, I did not have the support from my family if I were to choose that option.

I knew from the beginning that if I did go to college, I would be going to the University of Nevada, Reno. It had been my number one choice for years and was an easy choice. In the fall of my senior year of high school, I applied. When submitting the application, I knew this was not the option that I wanted to take. I knew that it would slow down my business growth. I knew that I was putting my life on hold to please other people. There just wasn’t anything I felt like I could do.

I ended up starting my education at the University of Nevada, Reno as a business major thinking that I would be able to use the skills gained to help better my news publication business. I quickly learned that there is a huge difference between starting and running a business and the “skills” that the business degree taught you.

While struggling with everything that goes into being a business major, I ended up having to shut down my business because I did not have the time to run everything while working another job and going to school full-time. Luckily, I was hired to work as an editor at another publication thanks to my experience of running my site. Additionally, getting recruited to write professionally was the push I needed to switch majors. Instead of hating my time at college as a business major, I became a journalism major where I get to learn from the brightest minds in the field and better myself for future jobs that I will enjoy.

My life took a lot of detours in a short period, but I was able to make the best of each one of them because I chose to embrace them. Selecting a path that would ultimately be the demise of my own business is the hardest choice I have ever made in my life, but because I did so, I opened up an entirely new part of my life. A part of my life that I was slowly getting to as a business owner, but because I took a different route, I got to a lot quicker.

Why I am putting myself first

Why I am putting myself first

Following Dreams

I am someone who has struggled mentally through life — that being depression or just not being sure of where my life is going. I have always been a bit of a loner and could be classified as an introvert. It isn’t that I don’t like spending time with people, it is just that I get social anxiety when I am around a lot of people that I am not familiar with. While I do not have many friends, I do have a handful of people that I hold close to me. These people aren’t always introverts — in many cases they are very different than me — but we find a level to connect on which allows me to trust them and let them into the always spinning mess that I call my life.

Now that I have gotten that thought process out of the way, I can talk about what this post is about: following your dreams. When you are a kid you are always asked by adults, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” While I wasn’t pressured by my parents at the time, I never really had an answer for that. As I went through middle school and then into high school, I found that I really loved tinkering with electronics and computers. This love most likely stemmed from a mix of my Dad working in a wide assortment of computer related fields as I grew up and the quickly growing number of electronics that were made available to my generation.

It wasn’t until I decided to move to LA where my Dad lives that I finally purchased my first data-connected smart phone. There was just one issue: I hated that damn phone. The user interface was clunky, the phone itself was slow, and it was just not the amazing thing that I had wanted all of my life. (All of my life being the over dramatized thoughts that any high schooler has had.) The next thing that happened to me opened up 2 of the 3 things that I love today and I would have never considered as a life-long career path for myself.

The first thing was writing code and hacking devices. I quickly took to online forums and website such as PhonedogXDA, and Droid-Life to find ways to improve my phone — no matter what it took. Long story short, I soon became the type of person that spent every free minute I had on my computer and either doing research or typing away at a text editor making modifications to files on my phone or making applications for the classes I was in.

The second thing I quickly found out about myself was my love for journalism. Throughout the process of finding ways to modify and making my phone better, I spent way too much time on the up and coming Android news sites that are now widely known by millions of people online. Once I got bored with reading so much about Android devices and the different software tweaks that were available for them, I decided it would be better for me to focus my time and energy into writing my own news stories and tutorials instead of just reading what everyone else was saying. This quickly grew into my own news publication called AndroidMeter.

These were my dreams at the time. I loved writing code and I loved writing news. As I finished high school, I continued trying to grow these dreams. While my coding was mainly done when I was bored and when I had nothing else to do, my thirst for online journalism grew. Several classmates joined my always changing company and while none of us were getting paid, we all put in our own time to grow this seemingly small company.

High school ended and I had an opportunity to be an IT intern at a company called Oblong which happened to be where my Dad was and currently is the System Admin. Here I spent 3 months learning more than I had ever expected to about computers. This is where I learned that my third passion is working with computers and working in the IT field. Never before this did I ever expect to want to fix people’s computer problems — even if it is just turning something off and back on again.

I entered college in 2012 as an Information Systems major. While this is a business degree, it was supposed to have a focus on computers and seemed to be the closest thing to an IT degree on campus. During this time I continued to write and grow my publication, AndroidMeter, and got a job working IT and web development at my school’s student union. This meant that I was working on achieving two of my passions everyday but also meant that coding became a thing to do only when I had spare time — which was very rare.

I quickly began to hate college. I know most people say to stick it out because the first year with all the introductory classes suck but it was much more than that. I was taking mostly business classes and I hated each and every one of them. When I came to college I knew my dream would to be a Journalism Major but after receiving pressure from both sides of my family, I chose a degree that would “make me a lot of money one day.” Because I wanted to continue making my family proud, I chose to switch my degree to Computer Science and to work towards that old dream of mine. Horrible idea.

When I say I like to code, I mean that I to hack things together my own way and have fun with it. When you enter college for a CS degree, your professors want a specific outcome and they expect it to be created in a specific manor. Lets just say I struggled and hated another semester of college.

Out of nowhere, something happened that completely changed my life — I got hired to be a professional journalist. I couldn’t believe it. After writing for myself and getting just enough visitors that companies wanted to send me free stuff to review, I was offered the position to be a writer for a news organization called MobileNations. I was blown away and gladly accepted the job offer. Of course this meant that I would have to abandon the company that I had built from the ground up, but it also meant that I had some major doors opened up for me.

It was at that moment that my family saw the passion in my writing dream. While everyone supported me in their own ways, they couldn’t really see writing as a career path or something I should be “wasting my time doing.” Once I got hired at MobileNations to write for Connectedly and AndroidCentral in May of 2014, they started to see the true me.

It was at this moment that I also opened my eyes to an entirely new reality for my future — I could be a successful journalist.

In my spring semester 2015, I changed my college degree to the one thing that I had wanted (even if it was just a thought in the back of my mind) to major in since applying for college: Journalism. The day I stepped into my first journalism classes everything changed for me; I loved college. It was amazing. I knew right then and there that I had found my true passion.

The video I linked above sparked this post when I watched it. In it, the narrator tells his younger self not to worry about life and what people might say and think. You love this one thing and don’t let anyone get in your way of your dreams. I feel the exact same way.

I found this niche thing that I loved to do while I was still in high school. I created my own path to continue this dream and found friends along the way that joined me and pushed me to continue moving towards my dream.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were many challenges and hurtles to get past. The biggest one is always fear. Fear can stop you from doing some stupid stuff such as jumping off a bridge and getting yourself injured but it can also stop you from accomplishing your dreams. I fought my fears and continued down the path of becoming a journalist even though I was constantly told that I was wasting my time.

Your dreams are hard to accomplish; no one ever said happiness comes easily. I just think that if you have the passion for something — no matter how seemingly crazy it might be — go for it.

Besides the video above, there have been three pieces of media that have really made me want to publish this story and share my thoughts on achieving your dreams.

The first is from a scene and the overall plot of the movie Meet the Robinsons. In the movie, every character is trying to motivate the main character to continue moving forward and to accomplish his dreams. In one specific scene, the entire family of characters congratulates the main character for failing. No, they weren’t making fun of him, they were congratulating him on messing up this one time and to learn from it. It is only by failing that we improve ourselves and get one step closer to our dreams.

The second is a comic called Is that not worth exploring? by James Rhodes. In his piece, Rhodes explores the idea of not seeing a dream through. Throughout the comic it shows a father who used to play the piano but left it behind to get an average job and to start a family. The idea brought up here is why not use your free time that is normally spent watching TV or napping and putting it towards completing that forgotten dream.

The final thing is a quote I came up with and only shared publicly a couple of days ago:

I’m done.

Words I will never say.
Always things to do or improve upon.
Always something worth fighting for.

You may have a different understanding of what I am trying to say in those 4 lines but for me, this is what I tell myself every time I finish a project, start to burn out while writing, or getting through something difficult in life.

My final thoughts here is just to go after your dreams. There are a thousand and one excuses that you can make to yourself but only you and your passion can push you to achieving your wildest dreams.

Hi, I’m Justin Duino

Hi, I’m Justin Duino

Justin Duino

Updated July 6, 2017 | Updated information found below the break


I am a 23-year-old student at the University of Nevada, Reno that can out geek almost anyone. While I have always tinkered with electronics growing up, I did not get into my geek groove until 2011 when I got my first Android smartphone. Before I even came close to purchasing my first phone, I spent countless weeks researching and looking for the best phone available at that time. I soon stumbled upon Noah Kravitz’s articles and videos (he was the head of PhoneDog at the time) which then led me to purchase my first phone — the Motorola Droid 2 (and unfortunately it was not the R2-D2 model).

The problem with any Android device in the hand of a geek at this time is that the user interface and software “skin” was clunky and sluggish. This then pushed me into learning to hack my device, load custom ROMs (Liberty ROM was my favorite), and make my handset exactly how I wanted it to be. Finding all of this information was still very hard to find on the internet, so I spent a lot of time on AndroidCentral, PhoneDog, and Droid-Life looking for different hacks and ROMs to customize my phone.

While learning as much as I could about Android, I began my own Android-focused news site called AndroidMeter in 2011. AndroidMeter quickly grew which gave me access to technology conferences such as Google I/O and CES which allowed me to meet amazing people in the development and journalism world. Also during this time, I interned at Oblong Inc. during the summer of 2012 which pushed me into the Information Technology (IT) world.

When I came to college, I continued writing for AndroidMeter and took up the IT / Web Developer position at the Joe Crowley Student Union. In May of 2014, I was offered the opportunity to be a writer for Mobile Nations at Connectedly which ended my time at AndroidMeter. Shortly after, I moved over to AndroidCentral so that I could share my love of all things Google and Android with their followers.

During this all I have fallen in love with wearable technology. When I was at Google I/O 2012, I had the chance to enroll in the Google Glass Explorer Program. Since the summer of 2013, I have been wearing Google’s beta headset. Since then I have worn a Pebble and switched to the Moto 360 that Google gave me at Google I/O 2014.

At the moment, I spend most of my day going to classes and writing for AndroidCentral. There I mainly write developer focused and in-depth how-to editorials for millions of readers. Typically, can find me with at least two phones, a tablet, and my trusty MacBook Air.

So that all is who I am and how I got to where I am today. Have any questions or remarks? Let me know below!


Updated 4/30/16

There have been several significant changes in my life since I first wrote this “about me” page. The first change — which is more of an update than change — is that I am still at the University of Nevada, Reno but I am now majoring in Journalism. I know that I need to choose a major and minor and stick with them, but as my career goals shift and more opportunities are opened up to me, I believe it would be irresponsible for me not to continue my education in a direction that I feel is best.

The next change is that I left Android Central / Mobile Nations to pursue other writing options due to several personal reasons. I enjoyed my time there and the experiences that I had, but it was time for me to find somewhere else that would allow me to grow as a journalist.

The third change is that I was given the privilege to head up the videography department at the Joe Crowley Student Union. Right now I am just making their promotional videos to-be-played before their weekly movie screenings and creating recap videos for their larger public events. I have plans for the department which include hiring several members to shoot and edit videos. I do this alongside my IT position which also changed slightly when I was promoted to Lead IT / Web Developer. I now supervise five employees as well and maintain the organization’s website and digital signage platforms.

The last and probably largest change is that I started a freelance company that I call JADUINO MEDIA. The goal of this company is to work with local, regional, and global clients on any of their journalism, photography, or videography needs. I have already been contracted to do several projects with clients located around the University of Nevada, Reno and will share the finished work when it is all finished.

As far as technology goes, my daily carry includes a Huawei Nexus 6P, Apple iPhone 6 Plus, 9.7″ iPad Pro, LG G Watch (yes the original Android Wear watch — article coming soon to explain that choice), and 2014 MacBook Pro Retina.


Updated 7/6/17

Just like my last update to this page, I have shaken things up a bit in the job department. First and foremost, I am now a full-time journalist writing about Android, Google, and whatever else comes across my desk. In the last year, I joined Phandroid for a limited amount of time before landing at 9to5Google. Here I have the chance to cover news, review devices, and write editorials.

By deciding to become a full-time journalist meant that I would be finally leaving my position at the Joe Crowley Student Union. After working at the organization for over four years, I felt that I had learned all that I could and that it was time for me to step away.

Also during this period, Oblong Industries, a company that I had interned at before starting college, brought me back to intern in the marketing/PR department. Here, during my three-month period at the company, I was able to build out a social media campaign, utilizing Google Analytics and the company’s blog that increased Oblong’s social media interactions by over 225%. Shortly after the competition of my internship, I was brought back on in a remote part-time capacity to run the company’s YouTube channel and manage one of its advertising avenues.

I am still at the University of Nevada, Reno and have needed to change up my major/minor once again but this time it was to help me finally graduate. Now, officially, I am a General Studies Major with an emphasis in Communication and a Minor in Journalism. Because of this change, I am less than six months away from graduating and then devoting 100% of my time towards my career (and paying off my student loans).

And lastly, the technology that I use daily now includes a Google Pixel XL, the LG Watch Sport (Android Wear), 2014 MacBook Pro Retina, a 9.7″ iPad Pro, and a 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport (with Android Auto built-in).

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