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Jennifer Person, Udacity, Student Success

It’s one thing to realize you need to make a change. It’s another thing altogether to actually make change happen. If you’re someone who’s struggled to make that leap, Jennifer Person’s story of life and career change is bound to inspire you. Her Udacity experience has played a pivotal role in her transformation, and we’re so excited to share her story with you today.

Greetings Jennifer! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk today. I understand you’re based in California, is that right?

Yes, I live in Roseville, CA.

Fantastic! (For you trivia fans out there, not only did the creator of the Batmobile live in Roseville, but it’s also the birthplace of Molly Ringwald!) 

So, what were you doing in your life, and with your career, prior to enrolling with Udacity?

I was working as a technician at an Apple Store. I had gone to school to be a teacher, but after teaching for a while, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do.

That must have been a powerful realization to undergo. Was it something similar that led you to Udacity, and to online education?

I chose online education because I really needed the freedom to manage my own time and schedule, and cost was definitely a factor as well. I tried online college programs, but I couldn’t keep up with the pace or the cost. I remember I was driving somewhere with my husband and I was on the verge of tears because I thought I’d never get the education I needed to get a job in software development. He was the one who told me about Udacity. I signed up that night. It was the right choice for me because it fit my changing schedule and my budget.

We’re so glad you came to Udacity! Can you describe for our readers what you’ve been studying?

I am an alumni of the Beginning iOS Nanodegree program, and I am now enrolled in the advanced iOS Developer Nanodegree program. I’ve also taken courses focused on programming foundations, JS Basics, XCode debugging, website performance optimization, object-oriented JS, and more.

Are there specific things about the Udacity approach that you find particularly beneficial?

I definitely like that everything always includes step-by step-examples, and I really appreciate the balance of different types of content—videos, text, quizzes, etc. The forums are a great asset too; when I post something in a forum, I always get a quick answer. I can say the same about the project reviews as well; when I submit a project, I always get really useful feedback.

You mentioned the forums, I wonder if you could talk a bit more about that aspect of your Udacity experience. Did the forums help you feel like part of a community? Or were there other aspects of the experience that helped foster a sense of connection for you?

I did interact with people on the forum from time to time, but the instructors themselves really kind of became a community for me—the presenters you see on camera really start to feel like familiar friends. I think that is what kept me from feeling isolated even though I was taking courses from my living room!

And now, the question we’ve all been waiting to hear you answer, do you have a new job now?

I do! I’m now working as a Developer Training Specialist for a great Information Technology company.

Congratulations! And are you using the skills you learned at Udacity in your new role?

I’m definitely using skills I learned at Udacity every day!

That’s so great to hear! Can you tell us a bit about your feelings for the new job? Is it something you’re really passionate about?

Well, I’ve always wanted to make a difference with my work, and I love that I’m now part of something that is going to improve other people’s lives. It’s been a great journey, because technology education really helped me, and it gave me the tools I needed to advance my career, and I’m now able to create software that will help other people.

And, you get to live in California!

Yes! I’m definitely passionate about enjoying my surroundings. I love nature and there are so many diverse but equally beautiful places to visit here in California. I’m also passionate about animal advocacy.

Thank you again Jennifer, for sharing your inspiring story of life and career change. We’re so happy to be a part of your journey!


We love Student Success stories that involve genuine life transformation, and Jennifer’s story is a truly inspiring example of someone not only realizing they needed to make a change, but committing to the real work of making change happen. That moment she describes is so powerful, when she’s in the car with her husband, frustrated and distressed to the point of tears, and he tells her about Udacity. That she went home that night and enrolled is just incredible testament to her strength of character, and her commitment to changing her life for the better.

Three cheers for Jennifer, and three cheers for everyone out there pursuing self-empowerment through learning!

Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins is Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer at Udacity. He types on a MacBook or iPad by day, and either an Underwood, Remington, or Royal by night. He carries a Moleskine everywhere.