Posts about Student Profiles

From Property Manager to Developer, Meet Shug

June 21, 2017

Meet Front-End alum, Shug!Students in each coding bootcamp come from an array of backgrounds, professions and life experience. This classroom composition creates a supportive environment for all of our students, and allows the uniqueness of each student really shine. I’m excited to be doing this blog feature on Shugmi Shumunov, a graduate of our Front-End cohort of August 2016. Shug’s outgoing personality and infectious smile shined as he worked through coding exercises, labs and projects. No matter how challenging the coding bootcamp became, Shug always worked hard and had a positive attitude. He was always willing to help, volunteered much of his time to support others, and did it all with passion and excitement. I had the delight of working with him at Detroit Startup Week, and have enjoyed watching his career grow and flourish.  (more…)

Meet the 2017 DEVELOP(her) Scholarship Recipients!

June 1, 2017

DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipientsThe tech industry should reflect the the diversity of our community. It’s a core value that Grand Circus stands behind in everything we do. With just 26% of computing jobs being filled by women, we’re always looking for creative solutions to the problem.

Last year, we were proud to launch our inaugural DEVELOP(her) coding bootcamp. It gave 19 women an opportunity at free tech training and assisted them in finding a career after graduation. This year, we were proud to award our first round of DEVELOP(her) scholarships, which provides full-tuition funding to a select number of ladies and can be used toward our full-time coding bootcamps.

Four amazingly talented women looking to make an impact in the tech industry were awarded this opportunity. As they continue to tackle their coding bootcamps, we wanted to share their journeys as they develop the skills they need for an exciting new career in tech! In order to learn more about their experiences and motivations for taking a coding bootcamp, we caught up with our scholars for the first installment of our DEVELOP(her) Scholarship Spotlight.

Meet the 2017 DEVELOP(her) Scholarship Recipients

Lhea J. Copeland

What did you do before the bootcamp?

DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipient I, Lhea J. Copeland (@LheaJLove), am a poet-novelist-philosopher-mother and now, a developer. I earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. I spent ten years working in fundraising, sales and marketing for Nature, AT&T, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Sphinx Organization, Inc. In 2014, I earned a Project Management (PMP) certification.

I always wanted to become a developer, a Black-Girls-Code-er, a Women-in-Tech-programmer, because I love science and technology. And let’s face it, I love “the internets.”

Why do you want to become a developer?

I have been blogging quite actively since the 1990s, and I have decided that it is time to be more than a user, more than a content creator. It’s time to create; it’s time to build.

What does being awarded the scholarship mean to you and your community?

My goal is to help end the educational gap and the technological gap between Black folks and the world. I can help break the school-to-prison pipeline. Being awarded the DEVELOP(her) scholarship means that I can be a part of the solution. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to change the world.

Lydia Latocki

What did you do before the bootcamp?

DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipient Prior to Grand Circus Java Bootcamp, I earned a BFA from College for Creative Studies, and worked on the Creative side of local advertising agencies. Most recently, I specialized in helping small businesses develop marketing strategies to grow their customer base and implemented various print and online solutions, including SEO/SEM solutions.

Why did you want to join a coding bootcamp?

I am incredibly honored to be selected as a DEVELOP(her) Scholarship recipient for the April 2017 Java Bootcamp series.  Since its inception in 2013, I have watched GC grow, attended several workshops and found the training model more realistic for me personally than going back to school full time.

What does being awarded the scholarship mean to you and your community?

This scholarship is my enabler. Being a part of this dedicated, intense environment, centered on teaching and helping students be successful is truly a gift. To be surrounded by knowledgeable teachers and GC graduates, the GC staff, and eager students who also want to be a part of the change offers a boost and support system I could not experience from independent online learning. I’m ready and excited to participate in this program to advance Women in Technology!

Theresa Skoniecsny

DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipient What did you do before the bootcamp?

After spending over a decade in corporate America, I learned a wealth of business administration talents and developed a superior interpersonal skill set. While working within a large organization, I was grateful to a valuable resource within the group improving cultural, environmental and/or social-ecosystems goals. These experiences have significantly led to my relentless passion and appreciation around community enriching opportunities.

Why do you want to become a developer?

After assisting management with building a user-friendly database and improving customer satisfaction, I was obsessed with process improvement, development and resolving problems. I realized my common-sense approach, attention to detail and determination to find the root-cause along with the flow of operations kept nagging at me. Both my intellect, as well as my passion to engage with others was not satisfied with the status-quo. The critical skills desired within the workforce need cultivated and require daily execution. A satisfying career involves risk, persistence and passion. I will forever push myself to my limits, grow within my professional bandwidth and dedicate my talents to improve others experiences using technological equipment or services. Becoming a developer will maximize my personal and professional attributes, while connecting to me the community and organizations I want to passionately serve.

What does being awarded the scholarship mean to me and my community?

I dream of bringing big data from “up in the clouds” to ground level. While improving hands-on capabilities, personal significance and social re-connection capabilities, I feel my imagination and connections within the community can create something big. Being awarded the DEVELOP(her) scholarship is a true honor. With this privilege, I am devoted and sincerely devoted to encouraging others, bridging demographic divides, improving diverse initiatives, and further educating or empowering women, youth, the elderly, or any other segment. With sincere appreciation to Grand Circus and Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation for selecting me, I am eager to dive in and develop.

Shathar Campbell

What did you do before the bootcamp?DEVELOP(her) scholarship recipient

Before entering the bootcamp, I was working as an office manager at an IT Support company. I was handling the administrative duties for the office, a role I have played for several years at a few offices. I always enjoyed the companies I worked for but I felt like I wasn’t tapping into my potential. Since being an office manager means handling so many miscellaneous tasks, I worried I would never be able to have a skill I could be an expert at.

Why do you want to be a developer?

I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 5 years and lived in the heart of Silicon Valley. I saw the high demand of IT jobs there and how everyone working in the IT field came from different walks of life. It made me curious so I started to code online and looked into coding bootcamps. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to enroll in a costly bootcamp there, and although I enjoyed coding, I had to focus on being able to take care of my children first.

What does being awarded the scholarship mean to you and your community?

Being awarded this scholarship is such an incredible opportunity. I can finally pursue my dream of becoming a developer and put my needs/wants first! To be able to have a job I enjoy and provide for my family in a field that is always on demand is such an amazing feeling. I want to show my Chaldean community that it’s okay to venture out and pursue a career other than what your parents recommend/politely insist! I hope I can be a good resource for my community and show them that tech is a great field to be in.

What an fantastic group! Check back in the coming weeks as our DEVELOP(her) scholars share more of their bootcamp adventures!


From Recruiter to Back-End Developer, Meet Milliza

March 23, 2017

Meet Milliza!Milliza joined the Grand Circus family as a Java coding bootcamp student in October 2016. While still in
bootcamp, Milliza was offered a position at
United Shore as part of their Developer-X program, where she is currently undergoing training in .NET alongside 18 fellow Grand Circus alums, including five of her classmates and graduates from previous Java, DEVELOP(her) and .NET (C#) cohorts. While we miss having Milliza in the space, it’s great to know that she’s surrounded by so many familiar faces!

Read on to learn more about Milliza’s journey from a tech talent recruiter, to a developer herself. (more…)

A Mission to Diversify the Tech Industry: DEVELOP(her)

November 30, 2016

I first discovered Grand Circus when I heard about the Apprenticeship Program, a course that provides non-traditional pathways to high-demand tech careers for those underrepresented in the industry. My first thought was, “Where can I find a job that allows me to make a real change that will impact my community?”. Lucky for me, Grand Circus was hiring!


Front-End Alumnus Spotlight: Landall Proctor

November 15, 2016

Here at Grand Circus, our family is constantly growing. We are so fortunate to have students that get so invested in our programs that they continue working with us to support new tech enthusiasts long after their programs have graduated. Meet Landall Proctor, a graduate of our August 2015 Front-End coding bootcamp.

More than a year after his bootcamp ended, Landall continues supporting the Grand Circus community by sharing his insights, wisdom and coding knowledge. He’s contributed in tech Meet Grand Circus Alum Landall!panel discussions, taught our Traveling Circus workshops and is constantly available when we need some alumni expertise. And lucky for us, he works just two doors down the road as a JavaScript developer! It has been great watching him grow his coding skills and seeing him share that with the community. I’m very excited to introduce you to one of our rockstar alumnus! (more…)

From Teacher to Java Developer, Meet Chelsea Gallagher

November 4, 2016

Chelsea Gallagher Grand Circus Front-End Alumnus

What’s more stressful than final projects in a coding bootcamp? Final projects while planning a wedding! That’s right, Chelsea Gallagher planned a wedding all while being a student in our June 2016 Java bootcamp! In addition to this, Chelsea took extra initiative to find a tutor so she could brush up on her skills during the weekends. With this type of drive, she was the first student to secure a full-time position in her bootcamp where she now works as a system developer for PCE Systems. Get to know Chelsea’s complete story in our blog! (more…)

Tell us how you #DefineTheNerd

October 28, 2016

You’re such a nerd.

Yes, you sitting there reading this blog. But not in the way you think.

For too long, the word “nerd” has been getting a bad rap. When most people think of the term, a simple, and often stereotypical, image comes to mind. As a company that works to train the next generation of tech employees, we see the effects of this unfortunate stereotype all too often. People often pigeonhole “techies” and developers with the dictionary definition of the word “nerd.” (more…)

Java Alumni Spotlight: Quinn Hamilton

July 7, 2016

I’m super excited about introducing a wonderful Java Bootcamp alumni today, Quinn Hamilton. Quinn is originally from Detroit, and came to Grand Circus looking to make a career change from an entrepreneurial background. I remember Quinn staying late, coordinating study groups with her fellow bootcampers and being an amazing culture captain for her cohort. She contributed to an awesome final project on her Demo Day and has been knocking it out of the park as a software engineer in Troy since graduation. Learn more about Quinn’s experience from her own words below.

Grand Circus Bootcamp Alum Quinn Hamilton


Front-End Alumni Spotlight: Yasmine Abdulhamid

June 16, 2016

One of my favorite parts about working at Grand Circus is getting to know students as they begin the process of changing careers. As the Director of Learning, I’m lucky enough to get to hang out with all of the students in all of the programs. Getting to know Yasmine was especially exciting for me though, not just because she’s amazing, but because we both share a background in teaching. So when I was given an opportunity to put the spotlight on an alumni, she was my obvious choice!

Yasmine is originally from Farmington Hills, MI and took our Front-End Bootcamp in October of 2015. I’m so excited to share more about her background, her bootcamp experience, and her incredible advice to prospective students.

Grand Circus Alumni Yasmine Adbulhamid