edX Learner Stories: Carrie McLarnon

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November 6, 2015

Carrie McLarnon | edX Learner Stories

Carrie McLarnon

Image: Carrie McLarnon, courtesy of edX


An edX course I took in February 2013 has changed my entire life! I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Civil Engineering in 2010, but I hadn’t enjoyed my undergraduate degree and had been working in temporary administrative roles from graduation.

In February 2013 I took MITx 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. My boyfriend talked me into taking the course with him. I had never programmed before and was unsure at first, but as it was a free online course I felt there was no harm in giving it a go. It was the first one I done. My boyfriend picked this course because he had previous experience programming but wanted to learn an object oriented language.

The course was amazing. It was so hard and at times and I wanted to give up because some weeks it took me so long. It was taught very well, and I found I kept going back because I wanted to learn more. My boyfriend and I watched the videos together, assignments and the tests got competitive! After the course was finished I didn’t really know what to do with myself. The edX course taught me so much and I wanted to use it, so I looked into what can I do next.

Shortly after completing the course I found a university masters course in software development – a conversion masters. I applied and started in September 2013. The masters course was an intense year, but thanks to the head start the edX course gave me I did very well, I actually graduate tomorrow at the top of my class.

The masters finished at the end of September 2014, and in October I started a PhD in speech and vision systems within the computer science department of Queen’s University Belfast. In February 2015 it will be 2 years from starting that edX course, and I now have a masters in the topic and will be 6 months into my PhD… and prior to the edX course I had no experience in this area.

Not only has the edX course changed my career I am also happier because I am doing something that challenges me and I enjoy it so much.

Thank you edX, MIT and the course staff!

Read this article on the edX blog.


Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX and an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science, had the following to say about Carrie's story:

"We are honored to receive inspiring edX learner stories, like Carrie's, from learners around the world. EdX learners' commitment and passion for education help us work toward our mission to increase access to high-quality education every day."