“Just Say Yes”: How Boot Camp Helped This 18-Year-Old from Venezuela Pursue His American Dream

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In a lot of ways, Freddy Jose Diaz is a glimpse of the future. He’s just 18 years old but he’s already managed to assemble an impressive list of credits. He attended The Coding Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte, led teams of front-end developers, and he’s written an algorithm to track the ROI of social influencer advertising on YouTube.

And Freddy achieved all of that just six months after moving to the US from Venezuela—without speaking a word of English when he arrived.

Welcome to the future of coding.

Just say “yes!”

Freddy’s journey to coding success began in Venezuela, which is in the midst of one of the largest internal economic collapses in recent history.

“Six months ago I was in Venezuela. Things got pretty hard,” said Freddy. “I knew I wanted to do something with my life.”

So when Freddy finished high school, he reached out to his cousin in North Carolina and bought a one-way ticket. Within a month, Freddy was living in his own apartment and was enrolled in the UNCC boot camp.

“I’d done some HTML and CSS coding for personal projects back in school and I always loved it. So when I saw an ad for the boot camp it just seemed like the fastest way to learn everything about web development,” he said.

Freddy’s life decisions stem from a simple, one-word philosophy. “I just said, ‘yes!’” Freddy explained. “When you say ‘yes’ to everything, great things can happen. Everything can be summed up from that.”

For most people, a 24-week coding boot camp is a tough enough challenge. You study a dozen new programming languages, build real-world websites, and learn the latest cutting-edge software. But before he mastered the ins and outs of Javascript and SQL, the first language Freddy had to tackle was English.

“The hardest thing to overcome for me was the language barrier,” Freddy said. “When I started the course, I’d only been in the US for three weeks. My English wasn’t great, so I sat in the back row.”

But Freddy quickly discovered that coding is a universal language—especially if you love solving problems and taking on new challenges.

Obstacles are just another part of coding

From the beginning, Freddy faced obstacles head-on. “When I first started the boot camp, I hit so many roadblocks,” Freddy said. “My instructor Jeff told me that coding was just gonna be like that. So I even said ‘yes!’ to roadblocks and tough class assignment.”

But the key to overcoming challenges for Freddy wasn’t just a positive attitude. “You have to be very good at time management to succeed in the boot camp,” Freddy advised. “When I organized my time, I started to make real progress with APIs and new languages like GraphQL.”

Freddy even put his coding skills to the test outside of class.

“Within a few weeks, I was doing server-side stuff with my Google Home,” Freddy remembered. “I bought a $10 sensor chip, linked it to my Amazon account, and wrote code to hack my fridge to order more milk when I run out!”

Clearly, nothing was going to stand in Freddy’s way.

Programming for the real world

Freddy’s voracious appetite for learning is just one reason why he achieved his goal of becoming a web developer. He also knows how to solve real-world problems.

“The way I earned enough money to move to the States was by monetizing ads for Latin American YouTube,” Freddy explained. “The problem is that there isn’t a good way to measure the ROI of ads, especially for social influencers.”

One of Freddy’s class projects was a way to fix that problem.

“My most successful project was an analytics list called Project Lisa,” said Freddy. “We designed a plugin and wrote an algorithm to analyze the set price of an influencer to give advertisers a way to track ROI on ad spend. We even used real-world data to verify that the program is 99% accurate.”

And this wasn’t just a class assignment. To date, Freddy’s plug-in has received several hundred downloads on NPM.com.

To infinity and beyond

As a young 18-year-old, Freddy has a long and promising future ahead of him—and it’s already starting.

“I already get a lot of freelance work on Upwork, and [landed] a position as a front-end developer for Rackcrate Networks thanks to the boot camp. I also plan to continue working with Project Lisa,” Freddy said. “But I really want to get a job at either Google, Facebook, or Apple.”

But his real goal is out-of-this-world. “If I could do anything, it would be to work at NASA. I’d like to start with a software startup focused on space exploration. But I still need to learn AI and start doing space exploration projects for NASA or myself,” he concluded.

After uprooting his life and learning more than one new language, nothing is out of reach for Freddy. And to all those looking to follow in his footsteps, he has the same advice: just say yes.

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