Turning Ideas Into Reality | Graduate Spotlight

Sep 21, 2020
Jessica Grande


Michael Carroll of Web Development Cohort 39

Michael Carroll had been working at Publix Supermarkets for 10 years in various roles when a desire to create a passion project, an app called It Takes A Village, led him to exploring online opportunities to learn coding. However, these opportunities didn’t provide the progress Michael was looking for and decided that to develop a new skill such as coding, he needed to commit to a full-time learning experience. 

After speaking with a few acquaintances that had attended NSS, Michael registered for a Web Development Jumpstart class, then applied for a bootcamp shortly after. And the rest, as they say, is history. 


Michael shares his favorite part of his experience was getting to learn from Lead Instructor, Steve Brownlee. “I have never met a better teacher. It was a pleasure to learn from him.” 

Even with great instructors like Steve, you’re bound to run into a few roadblocks when learning a new skill. During Michael’s time in Web Development Cohort 39, he mentioned that the transition from in-person to online learning was a challenge, explaining, “Not only because it removed my daily routine that was working so well, but also because of the mental fatigue that sets in from constant isolation.” While some weeks were more challenging than others, Michael was able to adapt to the change as he settled into his new routine.

When asked what advice he would pass to potential NSS students, he shares, “Enroll in the Jumpstart. It is a minimal investment to decide if NSS is the right fit for you.”


Michael’s front end capstone, It Takes A Village, is a single-page social networking platform built to help users volunteer their time and resources in order to help underserved community members “reshape [their] lives.” He shares, “This is the project I wanted to create that led me to programming in the first place. I know a number of individuals that do volunteer work in homeless ministry, and I admire their kindness and persistence.”

Michael’s inspiration for It Takes A Village comes from a deep place and desire to help other find social connection.

“I have not experienced homelessness, but I have experienced the social death that follows self imposed isolation from instances of battling depression when I was much younger. Culturally, we all grow through interaction with others, and it is hard to change our norms and habits when we have no such social stimuli. If we desire others to be in a different place mentally, the only path to get there is to share time and grow together. Knowing this from anecdotal experiences, I desired a tool that would allow me to work with a group of like minded individuals to sponsor a person in need in order to not only utilize group charity to help alleviate those physical needs, but also to help reintroduce individuals suffering from social isolation to a safe and nurturing social circle. A similar social circle was part of my path to healing, and it was provided by friends and family I am blessed to have in my life. While I do not believe my experiences mirror the experiences of those I am hoping to connect with, I hope there may be enough commonality to recognize a need that this app may help combat.”

Michael built It Takes A Village in React with React-Bootstrap for styling. “React Big Calendar was utilized to organize and display village events while Nivo charts was used to display budgets and budgetary pledges,” he shares. 

For his back-end capstone project, Michael built News Real. This full stack application allows users to track and analyze online news that they consume. “The inspiration for this project comes from the current trends concerning consumer trust surrounding news providers,” he explains. “To combat that falling sentiment, News Real attempts to provide users access to a site where they can search for & store pertinent articles with the user’s reflections as well as any reference articles that may relate to the primary article.”

Users of the app can access recent news as well as search for articles by various criteria, including date range, keywords, category, and domain exclusion or exclusivity. “Users can then scrape the site for the article and submit it to Cloudmersive’s processing API for assessment against objectivity and sentimentality,” he explains. 

Michael built News Real with React, Material UI for styling, Google Firebase for user authentication, C#, and a SQL Server database. 


Now a junior developer, Michael shares that he is searching for his first job as a full stack developer. “They are both incredibly fun, I would much prefer to work in full stack.”

While I love the fast pace, and camaraderie it instills, I began looking into programming from a desire to create new avenues of positive change in my community.”

Learn more about Michael by visiting his LinkedIn profile or listening to his podcast

Check out all the recent grads on Web Development Cohort 39's and hear the graduates share their experience at NSS and capstone projects in their podcasts below.

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?, Web Development