How one Udacity graduate’s personal health journey led to a better life, and a brand-new career!

People come to Udacity for many reasons, but one thing that unites them all, is that they come to pursue self-empowerment through learning. Many are tackling obstacles that stand in their way. For some, a lack of in-demand skills is preventing career advancement. For others, financial hardship is limiting their opportunities. Still others are battling obstacles like gender, age, or race bias.

For Pascal Milfeit, the story was a bit different.

Pascal was facing an obstacle too, but in his case, the obstacle was himself. This is the story of how Pascal overcame difficulties he’d put in his own way, and built a new future for himself by embracing learning as a means to a new life.

Pascal Milfeit reached his personal breaking point in 2011. He had struggled with his weight for as long as he could remember; enduring relentless bullying throughout his childhood and subsequently, self-esteem issues that followed him into adulthood. Repeated attempts at dieting, workout regiments, and the latest weight management fads yielded little improvement. He needed radical change, and he knew it. So he embarked on an entire overhaul of his life.

Over five years from 2011 to 2016, Pascal worked tirelessly to take control of his health, and the results have been incredible: Pascal lost 220lbs!

Udacity - Personal Health Journey - Pascal

It wasn’t easy, and there were setbacks along the way, but he was able to use those times as opportunities for self-reflection:

As I continued to lose weight, I would experience setbacks and plateau phases where things would simply neither move forward nor backward; during those times, I started to think a lot about myself, my thoughts, my emotions, and my psychological barriers.

Most importantly, it wasn’t the diet or exercise per se that was complicated, but the thought processes that went into actively pursuing the two:

During these times I often found it hard to actively think and self-reflect about my thoughts and behavior, which I so successfully ignored all the years before.

A big shift in his awareness as to what he was achieving came through sharing his experiences and talking to family, friends and colleagues. They supported him with outpourings of positive feedback, and this helped to keep him accountable, and stick to his goals:

My life and personality completely improved for the better, with me now tackling challenges and problems instead of ignoring them. Even more so, my attitude towards self-improvement and learning had completely changed.

Pascal wasn’t publicly chronicling his journey at the time. But something happened along the way, something unexpected. The feedback he received from all the people he stayed engaged with during his journey showed him that there was great potential in helping others through making connections.. He was inspired to effect real change in the world by utilizing the power of digital media. Maybe he could help people facing similar challenges?

His university education in mechanical engineering and business had equipped him with a basic knowledge of digital marketing, but he wanted to learn more. He searched for other opportunities, and discovered Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree program. He was intrigued, but had to come to terms with the idea of paying for education—in Germany, Pascal’s home country, education is mostly free. After a few weeks of consideration, however, he decided the investment was worth it, and he enrolled. He was immediately thrilled with the projects and content:

I enrolled and enjoyed every single project that was assigned. It was a very stark difference to the content and the way I was being taught at university before. I could really grasp the importance of every piece of content in a both day-to-day operative and strategic business industry environment.

With each success in the program, he became more adept in using the tools of digital media. He kept working on his own social platforms, and he also began assisting his university community with their social media and digital marketing efforts. His colleagues and friends were impressed by his newfound confidence and skills, and in turn, began relying on him for digital projects.

He recently completed his Nanodegree program, and is proud to have earned his credential, but he knows he’s gained something far more important than that—what he’s really attained is belief in himself.

Congratulations, Pascal. We are in awe of your achievements, and cannot wait to see where your newfound confidence will take you.