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Data science is one of the fastest emerging technologies globally. In fact, our School of Data Science is one of the most popular fields of study. The job market has also been showing signs of the immense demand for qualified data professionals over the last few years. Professionals in this field like Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and Data Engineers are also witnessing a demand. This has led to a need for more specialized learning. Our School of Data Science offers various specialized Nanodegree programs in some of these fields. 

It has always been our mission to help our students succeed and our mentors have played an important role in helping us make that happen. Learn more about Chrysanthi, a Udacity mentor from our School of Data Science who’s been able to chart out success for her mentee Manal.

Tell us something about yourself 

I am 36 years old. I was born in Greece and I live in Italy, with my family – partner Marco, and two kids Marialuisa (9) and Alexandra (6). I studied geology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and spent a couple of years at the University of Florence in Italy studying space-born landslide monitoring then I worked for TeleAtlas Italia as a GIS Analyst. I then started my Ph.D. at the University of Bologna in the field of Natural Disaster Emergency management during which I spent some time at the Imperial College of London as a visiting researcher. There, at the Centre for transport studies, I contributed to the implementation of a methodology for locating rescue centers for early response to earthquake-prone areas. After completing my PhD I joined the Italian Research Council in a team implementing a decision-making tool in a forest fire emergency. I, then, decided to leave academia as I wanted to launch www.kidkit.org so I started a part-time MBA at Milano Politecnico. KidKit, a children’s clothing rental service for the holiday period is yet to launch so I joined the Joint Research Centre at Ispra as an external consultant to support operations for the ERCC the European Response Coordination Centre for a short period. KidKit is conceived as an educational project to help new generations have a smooth transition to a circular economy. 

Why did you choose to become a Udacity mentor?

I see education and lifelong learning as the most important component of every person. I always loved innovative ways of learning and e-learning platforms have always fascinated me. Udacity has been a tough challenge for me, and have admired the company’s commitment to disrupt and blend human with artificial intelligence. I am really attracted by the way Udacity is trying to innovate and support people with their ambitions and empower different kinds of intelligence. This is the reason why I wanted to be a part of this mentorship community.

How does speaking to global students like Manal help you grow as a mentor?

Global students come with global experiences, global cultures, and habits. The more we get to know different people the richer we become. Manal is a special person, approaching life in such an inspiring way. She shared her professional experience and I admired her resilience in dealing with different cultures.  discussed how data is more than a tool to find a better job and how diversity would be so enriching in our everyday lives many times. Sometimes, her experiences would be similar to mine, and I would think of her often when I’ve had to deal with some personal challenges. 

What are the challenges and benefits of being a Udacity mentor?

An important challenge is not being able to provide an immediate answer to a student. There are times you just do not have the answer. In those moments trust is key. The fact that you do not have an answer does not mean you cannot be of help. You can just share your thoughts in full transparency. In the end, it is always the student who has to arrive at the solution on their own. Whether you know the solution or not, the satisfaction of finding a way to connect with people by helping them believe in themselves is priceless. It is like a brain synapse connected to you. 

Tell us something about your relationship with your Udacity students

Building a relationship can take some time and a lot of effort. You discover how people can be different,  yet the same amazing person at once. At times, this relationship can be a struggle because you can’t convince your mentee how much you care and want them to invest their time with you. We are encouraged to guide students to find solutions by themselves.o, when students don’t get an immediate answer they might think they’re wasting their time with you. This can be quite overwhelming, but different brains learn differently. We are just trying to provide a path to the solution rather than the solution itself.

Anything else you would like to add

I just wish I could stay with Udacity until it has quadrupled world GDP – or like forever

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