Udacity
Udacity
Dec 22, 2018 · 6 min read

Stuart Frye, Vice President of Business Development at Udacity, introduced the PyTorch Scholarship Challenge from Facebook on October 2, 2018. On that day, it would have been a serious understatement to say we were excited. We were, in fact, elated! That said, we didn’t actually know what was going to happen. Thanks to Facebook’s involvement, we were preparing for 10,000 challenge participants. But at that point, that was still just a number.

Ok, it was a big number. And when you’re talking about scholarships, big numbers are wonderful. But what’s even more wonderful, are real-life stories—real stories, from real people, who are achieving real milestones thanks to the opportunities they earn. That’s why we recently reached out to this new community of learners; we wanted to find out who they were, how they were doing, and to learn about their goals and motivations. We got some pretty remarkable responses. Like this one, from Anna:

“I once went to a lecture about women and leadership. One speaker showed us YouTube stats — men watch videos about cryptocurrencies, while women watch makeup tutorials. The speaker told us, an audience which consisted of women only, that if we women want to arrive at diversity with equality at work (positions and salaries) we’d have to stop being interested in superficial things like beauty and fashion, and start concentrating on future technologies and innovation. I don’t agree, I think the biggest threat to diversity and equality is when people don’t show the world who they really are. And this is about diversity in general, not only gender diversity. Up until now people in the Tech industry seem to have been very homogeneous. When my teenage daughter told her friends she was about to apply for a tech high school, they started to laugh at her. If the tech industry had been more diverse, year 2018 when this happened, I think no one would have laughed.

• I want to show the world how one developer looks like
• I love data, and I’m really curious about of AI
• I want to contribute to bring diversity into AI

PS. I paint my nails, wear makeup, heels and skirts. Because I want to.”

And this one, from Tango:

“My name is Tango G. Tew. I’m originally from South Sudan, and I’m currently living in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. I came to the United States in 2016, through an academic scholarship as a basketball player. I unfortunately lost my academic scholarship due to an injury. I am now a husband with 3 kids who’s working multiple jobs to take care of my family. I’ve moved from job to job thinking that I might find something bigger than just working for the fortune to support my family, but always ended up to work solely to earn a fortune.

I’ve started making a new path with a little belief in myself that I could do, and know, all I need to know without having to go to college first. I started teaching myself to build robots, learned a couple of programming languages by myself, and pretty much started learning all the things I needed to know to get myself started with AI. I know there are many things that can be done with technology to save and improve lives. Ending African children’s hunger, improving transportation by minimizing the daily loss of lives due to accidents in U.S., and many more. However, I’ve always held myself back because of my poor technology background and lack of qualifications—until I was accepted for this challenge. My acceptance for this challenge didn’t just open another door for me; it changed my life.

It smashed down a belief that held me back for so long. It assured me a total sense of approval of myself that I don’t need a college degree to do what I’m so passionate about. I believe if I stick to this path, my whole life may change, I might end up doing what I love for a living and do little things in a great way with it to change my life(my career) and improve other people’s lives.”

The passion of these learners is just incredible! And if you think the stories we’ve shared above are the exception to the norm, think again! With every new response we’ve received, we’ve learned something new about the strength of the human spirit. Here’s a quote from Jennifer, a 3rd Year student of Computer Engineering in Nigeria, West Africa, about her experience:

“Programming and machine learning are still at mighty infancies in Nigeria. Studying Engineering in the university doesn’t add a value to your dreams, because here, we are taught outdated concepts and software. This Python program will be a life-changing experience for me.”

And here is Mateusz, on his reasons for undertaking the challenge:

“I am Mateusz, born in Poland, but I live in Switzerland. I am studying Computer Science at University of Zurich and I am disabled. I have applied for this scholarship because I want to build my startup with low-priced bionics and create Brian-Computer Interface devices. I am working with my friend on an EEG controlled wheelchair. There we need to use DL algorithms to increase the accuracy. We want to design a gaming controller that makes it possible to play games only with your mind. After the course I want to enroll the Udacity Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree. Good luck, friends!”

Good luck to you Mateusz, say we all!

There is no real way to summarize the strength of character that each one of these remarkable individuals possesses, but in a response from a challenge participant named Imtiaz, we did find a quote that comes pretty close:

“I then realized the biggest project is the one to care for people’s lives.”

That’s ultimately what this is all about. Caring for people’s lives.

Here’s Imtiaz’s full response:

“Hi team! My name is Imtiaz. I was a project manager with experience in marketing, sales, and finance, so things were great until I went on a humanitarian trip to Bangladesh. We opened 12 schools and assisted with several medical bootcamps. I saw how useful the doctors and nurses were, although they didn’t speak any Bengali and they had a skillset that transcended language/cultural barriers — they were precious to the people of Bangladesh. I then realized the biggest project is the one to care for people’s lives.

I sold my house and went straight into the healthcare field. Schooling was incredibly intense and took a lot more sacrifice than I thought when I started, however, today, I work at one of the premier hospitals in America. I see a huge window of opportunity to apply AI into early detection, monitoring patient responsiveness to medication, and even assume responsibilities of healthcare staff, so the staff has more hours in our day to invest in our unique duties. I applied to this scholarship, because I know the quality of programs Udacity has and believe that with this information I can help improve healthcare. I, daily, speak and treat patients who are afraid of their future, so I see AI as an underutilized option to give hope.

Thank you for reading! Look forward to hearing you stories and tag-teaming, so we all can learn in this course!

Old Saying- “None of us knows as much as All of us” #TeamWork

No one knows as much as all of us. How true! And in reading these stories, what we all know now, is that Udacity lifelong learners are amazing!

You can see all the original posts from our challenge scholars on Udacity’s Facebook page.

Happy learning to all!

~

This post was written by Christopher Watkins, Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer, Udacity.

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