Peace Ntaganzwa - DUKE.ai former intern
Little did he know in his early years growing up in South Dallas, Marcus Cooksey would go on to found an AI-driven technology company that would serve as the springboard for the careers of many underprivileged, BIPOC members of his own community.
Peace came to the US from Rwanda in 2019. Upon arrival, Peace immediately expanded the computer science skills she acquired in high school by starting community college. Peace later transferred to a university to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. While she had taken hours of courses in math and computer science, she was rejected from internships as she didn’t possess the skills necessary to qualify, even for entry-level positions.
She turned to Generations USA, which she learned about from her local community. Generations USA provided her with skills, support and ultimately, placement with Duke.ai, who actively recruits from the school.
Peace, along with a very diverse group of students from other countries outside Africa, including Middle East, Asia and the EU, graduated from Generations boot camp in August,.
She was delighted when she got placement within DUKE.ai’s apprenticeship program, as she thought the AI-driven software was “cool, helpful and innovative.”
Peace began a 12-week apprenticeship program at Duke, where she learned Python under the guise of successful code developers. She began implementing her learnings almost immediately and also was taken under the wing by a mentor Aparna Venkatesh. The same day Peace began with Duke.ai, Aparna was coincidentally moving from apprentice to full-time employee with the company. The similarity wasn’t lost on Peace.
“To see another woman I could relate to—an immigrant BIPOC female like me—finding placement within a high-tech company that typically doesn’t make place for us, was both liberating and encouraging,” she says. “I saw there was a place for me.”
Through DUKE.ai’s apprenticeship program, which Aparna also this three-years young company was able to give her the experience she needed to
She began to build on her Java skills by taking Python classes “everything I needed, I got from the apprenticeship and mentorship of my colleagues at DUKE.”
“Without the Python-coding-specific experience at Duke, I never would’ve had the confidence or skill set needed to go after tech giants like Amazon.”
Her apprenticeship in AI, coupled with the newly earned internship at Amazon, have positioned Peace well to achieve her ultimate dream: moving to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in tech.
Now in her junior year of college education, Peace expects to graduate in Spring 2023.