AWS - AWS Cloud Architect Nanodegree - Pledge to Equality Scholarship - Student scholarship stories - student stories

AWS Nanodegree Changes Lives of Scholarship Cohort Friends

The world faces various challenges today, from a lack of equitable opportunities to diversity at work.  Udacity’s mission is to help overcome some of these challenges with our scholarship programs to create a level playing field to learn and grow through upskilling themselves.

Our graduates have great stories about how they lifted themselves into better professional circumstances by starting a new career or those who keep coming back to Udacity and now feel more like family.  Hear from two learners from our Pledge to Equality (PTE) scholarship cohort as they share their stories.

Chris J, Pledge To Equality Scholarship Cohort | AWS Nanodegree Track

Chris was working in help desk support and was inspired by what his other team members were doing. He applied for a Udacity scholarship and got into the Front End Development Nanodegree track. 

Upon finishing the Nanodegree, he applied his new skills at an international firm for five years before he was laid off during the start of the pandemic.  “I needed more skills and hands-on experience to advance my career.  There was so much going on in the world with the pandemic, George Floyd’s death, and I wanted to be a part of something.”

Chris applied and was accepted into the Pledge to Equality (PTE) Scholarship program.  He did the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Architect Nanodegree track.  There was a cohort of 800 with different Nanodegree tracks and was able to participate in two PTE career fairs.

He was surprised how much the people in the cohort helped him grow personally too. “Our Community Manager, Brenda Law, was supportive and gave encouragement to push ourselves. We had weekly study halls, and events and the best was the Friday night virtual happy hour.”  

Chris spoke highly of the weekly happy hour which ran from November 2020 – June 2021. “It was the highlight of the week where we talked, laughed, and supported each other with our projects, and personal and career situations. It was a safe space that we needed with the civil unrest around us.”

While the cohort was in lockdown across the country, Chris shared they built an accountability and networking community to support each other across the finish line. “There is a core group of 25 that became like a family and still do a monthly cohort happy hour.”

Chris’ Key Insights 

I asked Chris what 3 key things he gained from completing the AWS Cloud program, and he shared these thoughts:

Increased Confidence — When Chris attended the Pledge to Equality Virtual Career Fair, it gave him the confidence to speak about and demonstrate the concepts he learned in the Nanodegrees during his interview process. “I was able to tackle anything and I understood how the cloud worked and I was able to use the DevOps/Programming principles.”  

Hit Ground Running — “Understanding the cloud concepts from the AWS Nanodegree really helped me hit the ground running in my new job.” Chris explained, “I was able to grasp concepts vs. learning; the learning curve on the job was less than if I had not taken the Nanodegree.”

Marketability — “Finishing the Nanodegree showed employers I have the dedication and the ability to follow up. I got more interviews when searching for a new role and my current company took a chance on me.  I’ve solidified my skill set and continue to grow in my responsibilities this last year.”

Nigel P, Pledge To Equality Scholarship Cohort | AWS Nanodegree Track

Like Chris, Nigel also had participated in other Udacity Scholarship programs and came into the Pledge to Equality cohort with several completed Nanodegrees.  I asked Nigel what made him choose to do the AWS Cloud Architect Nanodegree and he shared four reasons:

  1. Amazon is the number one cloud provider on the market. 
  2. AWS certifications are valued highest among all the cloud providers.
  3. Amazon has a huge amount of free resources online to learn about their product.
  4. They have a dynamic user community to learn, network, and get help with issues encountered while using the technology.

Nigel said the concepts learned in the AWS Nanodegree were essential in securing his current role,  “Many organizations are moving to cloud technology, the Nanodegree has helped me in my current job as each project used the cloud technology in order to pass the hands-on modules.”

It prepared him to understand interfaces, and setups through browsers and he could easily deliver for the client.  His future goal is to complete the AWS Architecture and Security certification.

Nigel’s Experience at the AWS Summit Toronto

Recently Nigel had a chance to attend the two-day AWS Summit Toronto in June 2022. He was amazed at the level of learning and content he found at the summit.  He said it far exceeded any other conference he had done before. 

Nigel went to the summit to learn more about S3 storage, AWS DeepRacer League, certification labs, latest training for certification and he attended something he’d never seen at other conferences — a DEI session.

“I was shocked and happy to see Amazon recognizing that the DEI connection between their customers and employees is strong.” Nigel further explained what he learned from the session, “Amazon can reach more diverse customers if we understand their needs; and their workforce being diverse, also adds more value to the bottom line as they can fully support their customers.”

Nigel explained that “Amazon understands the importance of making their DEI outcomes measurable — both before and after — through quarterly promotions and growth within the divisions. I wish more companies would be so forward thinking.”

Are You Ready For the Future of AWS Cloud?

If you are looking for an opportunity to upskill yourself like these two friends, then check out the upcoming opportunities on the Udacity Scholarships page.


Monique Roberts
Monique Roberts
Monique enjoys traveling, photography, and connecting with Udacity students around the world in addition to writing about digital transformation, career upskilling, and innovative technologies.