In 2014, LeRoy Gardner was working 12-hour shifts seven days a week in Afghanistan as an HR Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Today he works as a Ruby on Rails developer and loves going to work every day. Here's LeRoy's story:
Throughout his 10-month deployment, LeRoy’s main job was to advise the General of the Afghan National Police on recruiting, retention, training and strategy. During the handful of hours when he wasn’t donning body armor, magazines, weapons and a helmet, LeRoy was glued to his Macbook, trying to teach himself to code using online tutorials.
He’d been interested in coding for years and had learned some of the basics, but soon became frustrated. “I didn’t give in, but I realized the process needed to change,” he said. Sitting in front of his computer in Kabul one night, LeRoy got stuck with a Ruby problem and reached out to Jesse Wolgamott, Back End engineering instructor at The Iron Yard’s Houston campus, for help.
At the time, LeRoy had no intention of applying to The Iron Yard – he just needed advice and sought help from a fellow Houston-ite. Jesse answered that day with an explanation of how to fix the error. Though he was appreciative of Jesse’s response, the tone of the email caught LeRoy’s attention. “That email was a harbinger of things to come. I just knew that I had to commit to learning full-time, with something to lose to make it meaningfulTutorials simply felt a bit like a dalliance,” he explained LeRoy talked to his wife, applied for The Iron Yard’s Back End Engineering with Ruby on Rails course, and was accepted.
He began class soon after returning home from Kabul in January 2015. "Learning [at The Iron Yard] doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These dudes don’t know it, but they’ve helped me a bunch along the way — there were times when I thought I wouldn’t solve an issue. StackOverflow, Google and all the interwebs hadn’t helped. But my buddies did. Overall this experience has been what I needed to get where I wanted. Period. I am getting to where I wanted to be. I am getting to where I saw myself. What is that worth to me? Much."
After graduation, LeRoy immediately jumped into an apprenticeship with Stackwave in Houston, where he is now focused on training in Front End Engineering. He’s still in touch with his cohort peers, who lean on each other when they need support as they launch into new careers. LeRoy described the camaraderie eloquently: “we all were seeking to create something, make something real and see it exist in the world. I think the skills and tools are simply a means to solve problems and create.”
LeRoy says he is passionate about working with customers to see a vision come to life. He loves solving problems through web applications, making brands stronger with solid design, and watching clients get excited about his work. "The skills I’ve learned and continue to develop have helped change the trajectory of options I have available," he said.
LeRoy followed the footsteps of hundreds and hundreds of students who have forged their own path by attending The Iron Yard. The graduates below have their own unique stories to tell as well. Whether you're looking to find a more fulfilling career or fulfill your love of technology, there are alumni who have walked your path.