CommunityTreehouse Dean’s List: Martha Chumo


Faye Bridge
writes on May 1, 2013

MarthaThe Treehouse Dean’s List is back! The Dean’s List feature is our way of highlighting some of the extraordinary students in our community and sharing with the world people who are passionate about learning, bettering themselves and making a difference.

This edition of the Dean’s List features, Martha Chumo, a 19 year old Treehouse scholar living in Nairobi, Kenya. Martha has been a web developer (Primarily Rails/Sinatra) for a few months, and has recently acquired the title of ‘founder and CEO’ for a startup she’s in the process of launching. You can also check out Martha’s work on her GitHub profile.

The Interview:

How were you first introduced to the tech industry?

I bumped (literally!) into tech after completing my high school studies in Dec 2011. I had excelled and was planning to do medicine. One day in June 2012, while having fun showing my many A+s to my peers and informing them how I have a government scholarship to med school, I went to pick something from the ihub []. There I found people sitting, staring at their laptops. I didn’t own a computer then and didn’t have much interest. I met the person I was looking for and in the process my life was changed again, literally! The guy, was a web developer. He started telling me “oh computers are so cool and all,” but I didn’t believe him until he did some complex Math in irb. That got me interested!

I went back home, took my savings and bought a laptop, and Googled “How to make a computer do stuff.” That’s when I learned the word programming, and then my journey started.

I have since, turned into a linux pro learnt web design and development, concluded medical school is not for me, and after enough fights, I’m now allowed to ‘play with my machine’ for the rest of my life *Happy Dance!* I am currently contributing to the Deltacloud project in a three months program designed to introduce women to open source and working on my startup, which has helped me find my entrepreneurial side.

My greatest inspiration is me. *Please* read on before writing me off! I get amazed whenever I think about what I have learned and am still learning. It’s amazing! I constantly evaluate myself, noting growth. This evaluation inspires me, and makes me happy. I think everyone should give it a try. 🙂 My newest motivation is coincidentally from Treehouse: Exercise your creative. If this sounds familiar, you know what I mean!

What drew you to the web industry and what has your experience been like so far?

I didn’t have much experience prior to my ‘bumping’ into tech. After the bumping, I was drawn to it because: One, I think it’s really cool that I can do stuff, and understand stuff (I get shivers when I think there was once a time a few months ago, that I used Twitter without knowing what was going on). Two, I realized it is a very young and ready market, and I want to tap into it. Three, it allows me to express myself. Call it my music or painting. 🙂

How has Treehouse helped you get to where you are now?

I’m starting a business based on the web, and that’s huge to me. I am attributing this business to Treehouse because it gave me the skills (via the Build a Responsive Website project, CSS3 course, the Javascript course, and Build an Interactive Website project) under my belt, the confidence to start my own business, and the community is huge for me as it keeps me going (Elizabeth is always urging me on and giving me ideas, and is among the many Treehouse team members I constantly interact with on Twitter).

Tell us a little about a project you’re working on at the moment.

I am working on three projects. The first: for some time now, I have been trading in commodities (offline and small time). I’ve decided to build an awesome site for the business, make it online and expand it. It will only by in Kenya for the first months. The second: is a musician/fan app (Rails). I’m into music so I want to play around with that idea.The third: my website, which for some reason seems to be the most challenging!

When you feel stuck while programming, what do you like to do to motivate yourself to get coding again?

I do other things around web development and web design that do not involve any code. These include: Drooling over awesome websites, killing time at, making sketches in my scratch pads, reading the Treehouse blog and other web design and development blogs, spending time at color lovers (and all the awesome sites Nick mentions in the CSS3 course), tweeting the Treehouse community to hear about what they are working on, watching screencasts of all things web and internets. And, when I need to share a little motivation, I also blog a little, but unfortunately the motivation ends after the first paragraph because by then my fingers are dying to write some code!

What are your plans for the future?

Take the web by it’s horns! 🙂 I want a successful web-based company, I want to master Ruby and learn more languages, and my ultimate goal is to write my own language! I have grown to really love programming languages and digging into them, so look out for njerichelimo’s language in the future. I also know that in trying to achieve this, I will be the code master I so badly desire to be. (I’ve been making noise about this to people around me, so I’m so glad I now have a larger audience.)

From your learning experience,what advice would you give other Treehouse members?

Do not just watch Treehouse courses, do the courses. I find it invaluable to code along with the teachers and follow all the way though. Of course, this means spending thrice as much time, but it is definitely worth it. Writing all the code with the teacher, enables me to write my own code confidently. And as a bonus, after writing the code, the code challenges are easier. 😉

Maximize Treehouse for you – have fun with the community – you have a free audience to review your work. Also watch the Treehouse Show, read the blog, participate in the Forum, and expand your network as it’ll spice up your learning!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the community?

The other day I was trying to explain to my mum responsive web design, how I had learnt it on this pretty new site, Treehouse, in a few days and how it’s a new trend in the web. She then asked me, if it’s a pretty new idea, where did the Treehouse teachers learn about it? That got me thinking. If Allison and Nick are sooo good with design, and they did not have Treehouse to teach them, can you imagine how much better we will be now that Treehouse is there to throw the latest technology at us?! The thought of how good we are becoming blows me away. 🙂

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Martha for sharing her experience with us, and for her inspirational words and motivational attitude. You’re a fantastic student and a valuable member of the Treehouse community. We’re looking forward to seeing you create your mark on the Web industry. Keep up all the great work!


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17 Responses to “Treehouse Dean’s List: Martha Chumo”

  1. Damn girl, am a python programmer( 2 years experience ) n linux (UNIX) fanatic (geek) lol…But your story is really inspiring,just showing how hard work is really the key to success. How can i get in touch with u??

  2. Guest on May 7, 2013 at 6:35 am said:

    For a while Martha I’ve been impressed at how quickly you’ve picked it all up. You started less than a year ago and already have a job and working on three projects!

  3. It is another success story achieved with hard work

  4. This certainly is an inspiring story! very encouraging indeed.
    Now I have no more excuses! Get coding.

  5. keithwyland on May 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm said:

    Favorite line: ‘I went back home, took my savings and bought a laptop, and Googled “How to make a computer do stuff.” That’s when I learned the word programming, and then my journey started.’

    That is the awesomest google search, ever! Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Martha, your story is so inspiring! Keep rocking 🙂

  7. Loving Martha;s work. Kudos

  8. I got inspired by your article of Martha. If Martha can do then anyone whose determine to learn language can also be like Martha.

    • Yay! That’s the spirit! 🙂 And in case anyone is not feeling so determined – tweet me. I’ll hook you with Treehouse members on twitter who’ll get you all pumped about learning something new everyday, and developing what you learn! 😉

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