Congrats to our Optimizely I/Own It Scholarship winners!

For the past couple of years, we have partnered with Optimizely to offer full-tuition “I/Own It” scholarships to individuals who are underrepresented in the tech community.

This year, we were excited to offer four scholarships, including three full-tuition Software Engineering scholarships at our San Francisco Campus and one full-tuition Software Engineering scholarship at our Austin Campus. Scholarship recipients receive tuition for the 12-week Hack Reactor Software Engineering Immersive bootcamp in San Francisco or Austin starting January 2021, are paired with an Optimizely mentor, and start a three-month paid internship at Optimizely after they graduate in mid-April 2021.

After much consideration, we are pleased to announce the newest recipients of Galvanize and Optimizely’s full-tuition scholarship. Read more about their stories below. We can’t wait to see the great things these recipients will do with their immersive education!

Helen Tael, Austin

Helen discovered coding through her engineering curriculum at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Though it was too late to change her major, she enjoyed the classes so much that she added a minor in Computer Science to her degree and took courses on object-orientated programming, optimization, and computational mathematics. Since graduating, she has worked in health care IT as a SQL database and ETL administrator for multiple hospitals across the US. After it became clear that her career path was moving her away from software development, instead of bringing her closer to it, Helen decided it was time to make a switch. She is particularly interested in creating privacy tools and making technology more humane.

Cindy Ryoo, Austin

Cindy’s interest in coding began after learning how to use RegEx to clean data while working at an on-campus policy think tank at Rice University. She was enticed by the idea that code could help her generate creative solutions to real-world problems, but was already close to graduating with a BS in Ecology and Environmental Science. She started working full-time as an environmental consultant, but she realized that her favorite part of the job was the automation, standardization, and optimization of daily tasks. After she was laid off due to COVID, she used this unexpected free time to pursue her passion for coding and switch careers.

Cindy plans to leverage the software engineering skills she learns from both the immersive and Optimizely internship to become the mentor to young female coders that she wished she had when she was younger. After developing the necessary skills in a software engineering career, she hopes to give back to her community long-term by returning to the classroom and teaching underrepresented minority students how to code. In her free time, Cindy enjoys baking, traveling, playing with her cat, and trying new foods.

Yubin (Benjamin) Wu, San Francisco

Benjamin came to the US for grad school from China in 2011, majoring in multimedia communications at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. After grad school, he got a job as a radio show host and multimedia producer at a local Chinese radio station in the Bay Area. One day, during an interview with an Asian psychologist, he realized how important self-awareness in mental health is in the Asian community, especially in the gay Asian community. He has been told and witnessed sad stories about mental health problems in gay Asian communities because there is a lack of self-awareness in mental health. He got another job as a journalist, news anchor, and producer at a local Asian language TV station 3 years ago.

His work mainly focused on technology stories before Benjamin came up with an idea to help people enhance their self-awareness in mental health with technology. To make his idea become reality, he decided to pursue another career in Software Engineering. He started taking Computer Science basic classes including a series of classes in C++ and Python at community college 3 years ago while still working as a full-time media professional. He got accepted to the online Master of Science in Computer Science program at Georgia Tech last year. Benjamin hopes he could achieve his goal in near future to help the community with all the knowledge and skill of software engineering he learns in the past and upcoming bootcamp.

Anna Zhu, San Francisco

Right before Thanksgiving of simultaneously the least memorable and most unforgettable year in recent history (2020, what happened), Anna received a phone call and learned she had been selected to be one of the I/Own It sponsorship recipients. It was quite the surreal experience for the 27-year-old San Francisco native, whose educational and professional career had taken detours she had never imagined for herself: from taking a leave of absence right before her last year of university to recover from burnout, to conducting neural stem cell research at UCSF and not returning to complete her degree, to having an existential career crisis at the ripe age of 23, to transitioning into the food and hospitality industry in a bout of pure curiosity. Anna is now determined to pursue a career in programming, despite not having prior experience, after realizing how the nature of programming seamlessly combines her penchant for logic and pattern recognition, desire to affect positive social impact, and need for constant challenge and dynamic growth. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn with and from equally motivated individuals at Hack Reactor and Optimizely.

Interested in applying for a scholarship? Although applications for our 2020 I/Own It Scholarship with Optimizely have closed, we offer 18 full-tuition scholarships every year for our data science and software engineering bootcamps through the Galvanize Scholarship, which you can apply for by clicking here. Alternatively, we also offer a number of tuition assistance options to help finance our bootcamps.

We Hack the Future

Transform Tech from Within with Software Engineering Bootcamps

Not sure if a bootcamp is your next step? Sign up for an info session or schedule a 1:1 Q&A with an advisor to learn about our programming.