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Education is all about transforming your life. And, sometimes all you need to change your world is a little wind beneath your wings. 

In our previous blog, we highlighted the journey of some of our students from the foundations course of the Machine Learning Scholarship program for Microsoft Azure. Whether it was the trailblazer Clarisse or the story of Ernita raising three children and while following her dreams, or Sara who is on her way to becoming a machine learning engineer — all these stories show that we all need just one right opportunity to change our lives. In this blog, we’ll focus on similar stories of passion and dedication for tech. 

So if you’re still considering enrolling for our latest Machine Learning Engineer for Microsoft Azure Nanodegree Program then read on!  

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An Huỳnh Văn Tú, React Native Developer in Vietnam

An Huỳnh Văn Tú

Sadly, our society is riddled with stereotypes. Class and gender based discrimination is common across the globe. But, An Huỳnh Văn Tú’s journey is a testament that one can break these stereotypes and emerge as a successful professional. 

“I grew up in an environment where coding was meant only for the privileged children of highly educated families of our society. There would be no hope for a girl without any coding background before university to make a career in this field, let alone compete against guys familiar with programming. Nevertheless, I successfully printed out ‘Hello, world!’ in a terminal with the help of Python at the age of 21,” she said.

Right now, she is proud to work as a software developer. But, her love for the IT field goes beyond just a career milestone. She wants to continue learning and has been following Udacity for some time. “I am saving for the AI for Healthcare Nanodegree program but it will take some time. Therefore, I felt I should be more flexible in my learning goals and started to explore Microsoft stacks in both data analytics and artificial intelligence fields. This scholarship really grabbed my attention since it is a match made in heaven between a highly trusted educational institute, Udacity, and a dream partner company, Microsoft,” she added.

She shared that her current employer is placing a heavy emphasis on developing various services to qualify as a Microsoft partner. “Practical knowledge in using Azure, and especially its ML services and products, is highly desirable for my current job and part of the recommended training listed by my supervisor. Thus, it will increase my chance to earn a promotion or salary raise,” she said.

Ozan Ersoy, Software Engineer from Switzerland

Ozan Ersoy

Millions of people all over the world have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Ozan, a 42-year-old software engineer, and father of 4-year-old twins, is one of them. 

“I worked mainly on Computer Vision and Data Analytics. One day, soon after I learned that I was going to lose my job due to the current pandemic, I received an email informing me about the newly forged partnership between Microsoft and Udacity in developing a Machine Learning with Microsoft Azure Nanodegree program and that I could apply to receive a scholarship for this program. This email came at the best possible time,” said Ozan.

For a long time, he was interested in machine learning training. “But due to my job and two kids I never had the chance to do so. I am planning to further improve my knowledge and experience on machine learning with Microsoft Azure, and find a machine learning engineer position that would allow me to put these skills into practice,” he added. 

Ijeoma Ndu, a University Lecturer and Proud Micro-preemie Mom from Nigeria

Ijeoma Ndu

After welcoming their I first baby 15 weeks early, Ijeoma and her husband spent 128 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)! They had only been in the country for six month and had no family and a small social network. “Each day in the NICU gave me the opportunity to participate in my baby’s care and to interact with his amazing care team. The long NICU journey really transformed me as a person and has fueled my current interest in developing machine learning applications for improved health care,” she said.

Ijeoma holds a degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Nigeria and one in Computer Engineering from the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. In January 2019, she completed a PhD in Engineering from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, during which she developed algorithms for real-time event detection in dense sensor networks. 

“I had previous experience developing machine learning models using Python on Google Colab. When I enrolled for this scholarship program, I hoped to further improve my machine learning skills so that I can build and deploy efficient ML models. I also hoped to gain hands-on experience implementing machine learning solutions in a cloud environment using Azure. This is a big leap in my personal and professional journey,” she added.

As a black female engineer, Ijeoma is contributing to diversity in the AI field. About her experience with the course, she said, “There was a lot of positive energy in the scholarship community. Building ML pipelines and running experiments with low code was my favorite thing! I was able to do batch and real-time inferencing for a machine learning model for the first time.”

April Dickson, a Solutions Architect and a Softball Player from USA

‘There are many paths you can take to achieve your career goals’ says April, a softball player for more than 28 years. In fact, she met her first boss through softball. Starting her career as a Research Assistant for a Neurosurgery Laboratory at Loma Linda University, she has built her career in data management and today she is working as an IT Enterprise Application Analyst for Citizens Business Bank.

“The bank that I currently work for has been gradually adopting Microsoft Azure as its cloud computing platform. I want to use the knowledge I have gained from this scholarship to help the bank ramp up Azure as a service,” she said.

“I was hoping to learn how Machine Learning models were created using the Microsoft Azure platform. Through this foundation course, not only did I learn about models but I also learned the end-to-end life cycle of a machine learning model using Azure services. I am still fascinated how far virtual and cloud computing has come in the last five years alone. The ability to be able to allow more than 2,000 people around the world to access virtual environments to run actual Machine Learning models in the Azure cloud environment was my favorite part. That alone proved to me how powerful Microsoft Azure services can be for an enterprise,” she added.

Laura Truncellito, Founder of Language Scholars from USA

Laura Truncellito

‘When going gets tough, the tough get going’ – this is what Laura believes. “Six years ago, when I thought I had only a few months left to live, I tried to find a way to keep myself going by throwing myself into learning. I started a graduate degree in technology entrepreneurship and began taking courses with Udacity, learning about technology. Long story short, I survived,” shared Laura.

Laura was recently awarded one of two Female Founder Fellowships to participate in the Founder Institute, a major startup accelerator in the U.S. Attributing her success to Udacity, she said, “This would not have been possible without everything I have learned from Udacity. I am grateful that I was fortunate to receive multiple scholarships, and Udacity has been my primary source of tech education. I have now completed a total of seven Nanodegree programs and I am currently enrolled in three different programs,” she added.

So what got her to Microsoft Azure? “Prior to the Azure course, I was creating machine learning models in the traditional way, and I was intrigued by the no-code designer of Azure ML. I was also very interested in learning about the automated machine learning that Azure offers,” she said.

As the founder of Language Scholars — a language services company in the Washington DC metro area — Laura is in the process of developing an AI-based language assessment and training tool. “I’m especially excited about the Azure course because I plan to use Azure’s Machine Learning Studio as a vital part of my prototype,” she said.

Cécile Navergoni, Project Owner at a Car Manufacturer Company in France

Cécile Navergoni

For the 46-year-old Cécile, establishing a career in IT was tough. At the age of 15, she came home disappointed after her career counsellor told her that technology wasn’t meant for girls. It was 1988. “So I enrolled for a general bachelor’s degree,” she said. 

But the urge to learn about technology was still there. In 1994, Cécile enrolled for a bachelor’s technician degree. “It wasn’t easy to get admission in this field because I had no background. We were just two females in the entire class and by the benchmark this was still higher than expected. I wanted to show them that a girl is as capable as a boy to succeed in a technical field. So, I graduated at the top of my class,” she said proudly. 

After that she went to an engineering school. But as she only had a technician degree she was not allowed to choose a field of her choice and had to study Chemical Engineering. 

Once she graduated she began looking for a job. There was no job in Chemical Engineering. But IT was booming in 1998. “I did have such a great guidance counsellor! Moreover, back then there were no MOOCs, no Youtube videos, no webinars to learn. So, I did what could be done at that time —  went to the bookstore, bought a C book, a UNIX book and an Oracle book, and learned it by myself. And FINALLY I landed a job in IT,” she shared.

Cécile has a new found love for Artificial Intelligence. “When I applied to the Machine Learning Scholarship program for Microsoft Azure I was eager to learn a lot of theory on machine learning. What also really interested me was the fact that it was not only theory but also hands-on projects happening in a professionally recognized environment. From  experience I know that if you learn theory but never apply it, you don’t really learn it. To have this hands-on training on a well-known software was the icing on the cake,” she shared.

Well, these students have really worked hard to be who they are right now. We feel proud to have been a part of their journey and wish them all the best. 

If you want to transform your career then do check out our latest Machine Learning Engineer for Microsoft Azure Nanodegree Program.

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Ritika Pradhan
Ritika Pradhan
Ritika is the Content Manager at Udacity and is passionate about bringing inspirational student stories to light. When not talking to the amazing Udacity students, she can be found reading an article or watching a video on the internet.