Echoes of Transformation in the Amazon

This piece was originally written by Elise Rooney on Udemy’s Stories page.

The funny thing about transformation is that you may not even realize it’s happening until you’re through it. For Elise Rooney, taking leaps of faith at the onset was just that — setting off on an adventure without knowing what was in store. But over and over again, those leaps of faith resulted in transformative experiences that have led her to where she is today, Senior Manager on the Udemy marketing team.

Elise Rooney: Echoes of Transformation in the AmazonAfter college, Elise pursued a career in sports, working for a minor league baseball team in Spokane, Washington. She spent summer nights at the ballpark, ensuring families and community members alike were left with smiles on their faces regardless of the game’s outcome. While this experience delivered a lot of joy, it didn’t quite fulfill all Elise hoped for out of a career. Two seasons later, she made the difficult decision to abandon her dream job and make the move to Denver, Colorado for a fresh start and new opportunities. Following several marketing roles for tech companies and in the midst of the COVID era, Elise was eager for a job that provided a closer connection to her co-workers and to the company’s mission.

“Udemy is helping people in their lives, and so it takes it to the next level.”

Elise Rooney with a camera crew in the Amazon rainforest.Along came Udemy. With a local Denver office, abundant growth opportunities, and a commitment to accessible learning for all, it was the perfect fit. Recognizing the difference between Udemy and other tech companies, Elise said: “I think so much of what you do in the tech industry is helping people in their jobs be more efficient. But Udemy is helping people in their lives, and so it takes it to the next level.”

In 2024, nearly three years after joining the team, Elise embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime business trip to witness the real-life impact of Udemy courses for some of our most remote learners in the Peruvian Amazon.

Elise Rooney from Udemy with instructor Diego Davila and learner Roy Riquelme in southeastern Peru.While on-site to document other stories of transformation, she was in the midst of writing another story of her own — this time from deep in the jungle.

“I knew that after this experience I would leave, and I would never be the same. To see how people with vastly different backgrounds and experiences from me are using the products I work on every day to build opportunities for their communities and conserve the place they call home. I feel so grateful.”

Another leap of faith. Another transformative experience. In the words of Elise, “Life is good.”