POODNC Scholarships Have Been Awarded

Scholarships for the Oct 29-31 Practical Object-Oriented Design Course (POODNC) in Durham, NC have been awarded!  Winners are listed below, but before I introduce them I'd like to give an overview of the applicant pool and selection process.

I'll be awarding scholarships for future public classes and hope that transparency about how this works will motivate you to talk some deserving person into applying, or to apply for your own deserving self.

The POODNC Scholarship

The scholarship includes a seat in the POODNC course (courtesy of me), and airfare and lodging (courtesy of Hashrocket, to whom I am very grateful).  As you can see, it's a full ride.  The intent was to remove every financial barrier that would prevent the recipient from attending.


There were 44 applicants.

Experience Level:

  • 6 - currently in school / attending bootcamp
  • 30 - 6+ months
  • 8 - career changers


  • 28 - women
  • 16 - men

Minorities/Under Represented:

  • 19 - people of color (10 men, 9 women)
  • 3 - women over 35

Selection Criteria

We (me and 2 others) knew that we wanted these scholarships to support good works and/or diversity, but weren't initially sure how we'd ultimately select the winners.  We decided to give very minimal application instructions and rely on each person to argue their best case.  The instructions merely said 'Tell us why you deserve a scholarship'.

As we evaluated the applications our priorities became clear and definite selection criteria evolved.  Ultimately, we looked favorably upon candidates who:

  1. had a clear financial need
  2. had a moderate amount of programming experience
  3. were demographically diverse from the community at large
  4. were engaged in good works
Financial need:

We were biased towards folks who were underemployed and away from folks who appeared to have reasonably well-paying jobs.  This bias held even for folks who were attempting to change from non-programming to programming careers.
We removed from consideration those whom we regarded as 'able to pay'.


We required some amount of real-world programming experience, 'some' being defined as 'more than a bootcamp'.  Folks with very little programming experience have successfully taken this course, but more experienced programmers get correspondingly more out of it.  The scholarships are intended as levers to support change; requiring 6 months (ish) of real-world programming experience moves the fulcrum and makes each scholarship have more value.
We removed from consideration those who did not have the minimum amount of experience.


We believe that human diversity improves both the software we create and the community in which we work.  We were biased towards candidates who differed from the demographic norm (i.e., in age, ethnicity, gender, etc).
This quality tied in importance with 'Good Works'.

Good Works:

We preferred candidates with a demonstrated track record of good works, where we define 'good work' as anything from "I spend my spare time on 'Code for America' projects" to "I volunteer as a coach at RailsBridge, RailsGirls, BlackGirlsCode".  We preferred candidates who could say "This scholarship will help me do a better job at this thing I am already doing" over candidates who said "This scholarship will make me better".
This quality tied in importance with 'Diversity'.

As I said, we didn't explicitly ask for financial, experience, demographic or good works information but it was easy to get.  Many applicants actually included it on their submission and simple web searches unearthed the missing bits.


A 40-something, Hispanic male who worked in retail, taught himself programming and had been contributing to Code For America for several years would rank very high by the criteria above, and a 20-something, Caucasian female who was currently employed as an accountant but wanted to switch to programming, well, not so much.

The 'Financial Need' and 'Experience Level' criteria had to be met in order to stay in the running; applications which survived those tests went on to be evaluated based on 'Good Works' and 'Diversity'.  We winnowed the list from 44 applicants to nine finalists (interestingly enough, the demographics of these nine matched the demographics of the whole), and then selected the two winners.

The Winners Are

LaToya Allen

LaToya is passionate about teaching students from under-represented communities how to code. She’s taught Ruby, Javascript and TDD to girls from an under-represented high school and has volunteered with Girl Develop It and Chicago Women Developers to teach women and girls who, like herself, are self taught.

She'll use what she learns to continue teaching programming to students in after-school programs. Her goal is to help kids who have little or no hope of going to college learn skill-sets that will lift them out of poverty, giving them a life they may not be able to envision.

She is currently a Resident Apprentice at 8th Light in Chicago.

Omowale Oniyide

Omowale's recent discovery of programming changed her world.  She returned to school this year to pursue a degree in game development and has already submitted a physical prototype of her first game to IndieCade, the International Festival of Independent Games.

She's currently working with a Rails Girls team to build an in-browser REPL for the Ruby Standard Library, with the goal of making it more accessible to all (think TryRuby.org). The team recently presented at the LA Ruby Meetup where they discussed their use of mob and pair programming and they're about to speak at Rocky Mountain Ruby, where they'll demo their initial work.  They hope to inspire others to join their efforts, both on this project and with Rails Girls in general.

Omowale is a student game developer from Los Angeles, CA, who focuses on blending play between physical and digital spaces.

We Want You

As you can see, a candidate who is engaged in good works and is an outlier in every demographic category would be unbeatable, but qualifying on even a subset of these criteria can win you a scholarship.  If you, or someone you know, fills the bill, I hope to see your application in the future.

Meanwhile, please join with me in extending my congratulations to LaToya and Omowale.  They're gonna succeed in whatever they choose and our community is improved by their presence.  I'm grateful that they're here and gratified to support them along their way.

And finally ... you don't actually need to win a scholarship, you can get into the course the old-fashioned way by simply purchasing a ticket.

Join me at POODNC on Oct 29-31 in Durham, North Carolina (BBQ included).

Schedule a private course.

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Posted on September 15, 2014 .