My Blacks In Technology Scholarship Phase 1 Journey
How it Started
It all started on 9th April 2021, I received a mail from Udacity telling me it was my last chance to apply for the Blacks in Technology Foundation Scholarship. Prior to seeing this mail, I’ve been told that to get an Udacity Scholarship, you had to be lucky. I was skeptical about applying at first but I finally decided to give it a shot since I had nothing to lose.
Getting The Scholarship
On the evening of 21st April, I opened my Gmail for a different reason and I saw a mail in my “Promotions” from Udacity Scholarship Team, I opened it and there was the congratulatory mail with my challenge recipient badge I posted the badge on LinkedIn, but I really had no clue of what to expect.
A mail was sent for the start of the challenge phase and for orientation, I attended the orientation and discovered that I was one of the 1k chosen out of 9k+ applications and I was so elated although I was still lost😂. An Udacity Scholarship Alumni was called to tell us what helped her during the challenge phase and how we could participate in the challenge phase to increase our chances of being selected for phase 2.
Joining the Slack Community
After the orientation, I joined the slack group and it was overwhelming 😳😳. I’m always the quiet type in any group chat and one of the requirements for making it to the nanodegree phase was to participate in the slack community which was a difficult one for me. I started by introducing myself to the #welcome channel and I received warm welcome from my fellow scholars (that was just a glimpse of the love we shared in the community). Fast forward to when the student advocates application was opened (an initiative that helped students to be active in the community) I decided to apply because I had passion for helping people and also being the “quiet in one whatsapp group” I needed a reason or push to be active (one of the best decisions I made in the challenge phase). 7th May, the shortlisted candidate list was out and I was chosen to be the #tech_help channel student advocate along side Luiz Carneiro and Raheem Olalekan Usman. Getting into this smaller group, the slack page became less overwhelming, the advocates started reaching out privately to know what was required of us and we all seemed to be clueless😬😬. Thanks to the student advocates orientation held by our awesome community managers Julianne Bell and Palak Sadani, I had a much clearer idea of the challenge phase, and I was now comfortable to a great extent.
Making friends and some initiatives that made the journey worthwhile
We started another wonderful initiative “daily scrum” which was our daily stand up to help us with accountability and to also indicate if we had any blockers, I remember going through the daily scrum one day and say a fellow scholar in my track had a blocker in a topic I understand well and I offered her help, and that was the beginning of my making friends journey 😅. I was balancing my daily activities with my learning and my participation in the slack group just fine until I hit a blocker myself “the subquery mania”. I reached out to Olabowale Musa(Wale.fun) who had initially reached out to me with regard to what we should do as student advocates, he offered to help me with the blocker, we organized a meet call where Michael Mathias was also in attendance and that started the journey of my accountability partners💪🏽💪🏽at this point, I was now very comfortable, I had friends, I had a study group and together with Hassan Elzmuzamel, Ameha Habtu, Veronique Graves and Blessing Omorodion, we started hosting meetings for our fellow scholars who had blockers and started coming up with initiatives to help our track, which included: Query hour, Sunday SQL tutorials and HackerRank sessions. On the other hand with my tech help advocates, we started an initiative (tech hour) where we were available in real time to help out with our fellow scholars technical issues. We also came up with another initiative “How to increase your visibility to attract potential employers” with “Resume Preparation and materials” in collaboration with Caner(pronounced Janer) Akin and “ How to use Github and Git” where we held webinars to increase the participation of scholars during the tech hour.
At this point, we had started a ripple effect in the community, everyone was ready to support each other, we felt the love in our community increase, it was rare for anyone to post a problem without being helped within 5 mins and before we knew it, a community that had people from different parts of the world became a family. The love was massive, we all forgot we were in a competition and had the unique goal of helping everyone to succeed, it was a sight to behold😍😍. On the second half of the phase, our lovely community managers came up with another wonderful initiative
“A day of learning”, this was a 24 hours event of learning different things and the student advocates were given the opportunity to volunteer as the event promoters and of course I volunteered 😁😁. My highlights for the day were the “SQL quiz” by Alalade Olusoji, “Party hour” by Milka Santana, “Personality Quiz” by David Netty, “Just fun: Mobile photography” by Wisdom Elendu (who by the way called to my notice earlier in the program that my slack name didn’t meet the required format). After the day of learning, our awesome community manager Julianne came up with a suggestion to hold a “mini day of learning” for the data science track since our performance was behind that of other tracks, this was an awesome initiative as it increased our track completion rate by 4.6% in just one day!!!!, another wonderful initiative was the “Buddy group” by Olaitan Akinyele.
My Student Story
This was one of my wins, my story was selected as the top 15 student stories out of 100+ story submissions and I was voted top 5 by my fellow scholars along side Milka Santana, Najiya Omar, Wisdom Elendu and Alalade Olusoji😊😊😊.
The most difficult part of the Challenge
Saying goodbye was the hardest for everyone, sincerely I wished we could go on and on but as Edidiong said in her last message in the student advocates channel “For everything, there’s a beginning and an end”, I can only but smile at my growth and experience that are now a part of me
It was truly an honor to be part of a community where so much love existed and glad that I’ve made friends that would last a lifetime, I grew and I learned a lot. I’m also glad I impacted lives over this past 9 weeks.
One of the lessons I learnt was the importance of being dedicated to a course : after the challenge phase was over, scholars who had completed 100% of the course were sent a finalist mail and non was sent to me 😒 because of some technical issues I faced in my classroom, although I finished the challenge course over a month before the challenge phase was over. My friends were up and about supporting me, reaching out to our community managers, our community managers were on their toes to make sure my dedication to the community was not in vain and encouraging me until the issue was resolved.
My role in the scholarship challenge phase helped my evolve my skills as regards communication, teamwork, leadership, networking, problem solving, time management to mention a few.
The Good news
I am excited to announce that I, Onyinye Precious Udebuani am a Blacks in Technology Scholarship 2021 challenge finalist🎉🎊.
My special thanks to the Blacks in Technology Foundation and to Udacity for stopping at nothing to make sure we have skills that would help us in a chosen paths in tech as I’m hopeful of making it to the nanodegree phase, I’m thankful for this opportunity to grow both in tech and as an individual ❤️❤️. My appreciation goes out to all the challenge phase scholars, it was a privilege to be one of you, to our dearest community managers Palak and Julianne, thank you for building such an amazing community were such love existed, you are indeed super humans.
if you wish to follow my progress in tech so far, I’d be happy to connect with you on https://www.linkedin.com/in/onyinye-udebuani-608979106/