I was born in Colombia and saw firsthand the poverty that's so common in third world countries. My parents were involved in charity and this opened my eyes to all the other people who had a lot less than me.
Following that traditional "American Dream" I moved to Florida when I was 19 and started a decade of self-exploration to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I was very passionate about knowledge, but hesitant because there was so much to learn and so little time. So I decided to start my journey exploring knowledge itself.
I enrolled in college to learn about learning. I quickly became fascinated with logic, ethics, existentialism, political philosophy, and the philosophy of science.
I realized that I had to decide for myself what my purpose in life was. There is no predetermined fate, so we need to create our own. I discovered that my goal, what "the good life" meant to me, was not merely to analyze the world, but to improve it.
I took a cognitive psychology class, and quickly moved from my philosophical grounding towards the social sciences.
2. International Affairs and Demography
I started seriously thinking about how to measurably improve the world. A healthy philosophical background helped me leapfrog the common positivism in the social sciences and think critically about how the tools I was learning were treated as unquestioned dogma. As I was learning them, I was aware that every theory is always for someone and for some purpose.
I chose International Affairs because I wanted to learn about all the major social sciences. I was lucky to find a interdisciplinary program at Florida State University, where I took classes in sociology, economics, nonprofit management and program evaluation.
I then chose Applied Demography because I wanted to learn a tool that was universally applicable in the social sciences, so I figured learning how to measure people was one of the most extensible disciplines I could find.
At the same time I was learning nonprofit management and statistics, I was also applying these skills on the ground. I worked at The UPS Store throughout graduate school and used analytics and management techniques to climb to the position of Store Manager.
Just as philosophy left me wanting to expand to something more applied, I started eyeing my next goal before I finished my master's degrees. I started learning about data science at a Demography conference and quickly realized most of the tools I was learning were already outdated.
I enrolled in Metis to expand my ability to analyze data. I did a three month intensive bootcamp where I learned how to code and how much there was to learn. The skepticism from philosophy, the scientific mindset from international affairs, and the statistical thinking from demography were incredibly useful.
I quickly fell in love with the possibilities of machine learning, recommendation systems, image recognition and the wide applicability of deep learning.
Since graduating, I've been doing data science consulting, reading books about the future ethics of technology, and learning new tools.