This Legally Blind Paralympic Gold Medalist Is Harnessing His Fighting Spirit to Upskill in Tech

Growing up legally blind and with albinism, Scott Moore faced more than his share of obstacles. “People automatically have expectations when you have a disability,” he says. “They expect you to fail. They don’t expect you to be able to do what they can do.” 

But throughout his life, Scott has never let his visual impairment—or anything else, for that matter—stand in the way of his goals. Instead, he has turned people’s assumptions into fuel for his success. 

Dedicating tens of thousands of hours to the martial arts practice of judo, Scott not only became an expert at throws, chokes, and holds—he became the best: winning three Paralympic medals, including the first gold in USA Judo history. “Having people underestimate you,” he says, “is a good motivator.”

When he was laid off from his long-standing web developer job, Scott applied that same tenacity he has as a sixth-degree black belt to leveling up his tech skills in the University of Denver (DU) Coding Boot Camp.

EDX INLINE Scott Moore FISTS

Training Day and Night

Joining the boot camp wasn’t Scott’s first time as a student at DU. Many years earlier, he had earned a master’s degree from DU in computer information systems, balancing night classes with his daytime training at Colorado’s U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. “I was behind my basement computer late into the night, teaching myself programming,” he says. “I remember my wife—who’s also a national judo champion—calling down to me on my cell at two AM, asking if I was coming to bed.”

Once he launched his tech career, Scott spent over a decade building web servers and pages with ASP and SharePoint, troubleshooting code, and becoming an IT jack-of-all-trades. But when the grant supporting his salary dried up and Scott was left to find a new job, he realized that technology had accelerated in those years—and he hadn’t kept up with its pace.

“When I was first doing web development, JavaScript was simply what you used to make buttons and pictures change when you mouse over them,” he says. “But when I started researching how to beef up my skills, I realized it’s now a full-fledged language—and I didn’t know it. So I removed JavaScript from my resume until I could feel comfortable with it again.”

Pushing Past Barriers

A chat with one of his judo students piqued his interest in taking a tech boot camp at about the same time his wife spotted DU’s online Coding Boot Camp. Though he was excited to hear his alma mater now offered a convenient and flexible way to learn a complete suite of full-stack programming skills fast, he was also admittedly intimidated. “It’s so funny,” he says. “I’ve spent my whole life fighting, yet here I was, so nervous about coding in JavaScript.”

But Scott’s apprehension quickly waned once the boot camp was underway. “I got into it and loved it!” he says. The course’s online format enabled him to use his extra-large monitor to accommodate his visual needs, and the part-time coursework fit well into his demanding judo schedule. Most of all, he loved the interactive nature of the course.

“We had a really cool instructor, Manny, who was open to all our questions and helped us build programs during office hours,” he explains. “He also got started in tech by taking a boot camp, so that was really encouraging to me. Our TAs were fantastic, too. And I finally got up to speed on JavaScript. I started realizing: I can do this. I’m building applications and servers every day. It all makes sense.”

EDX QUOTE CARD Scott Moore

Judo Master, Coding Mentor

In addition to conquering his JavaScript jitters, Scott unofficially mentored classmates who came to him for homework help after witnessing his commitment and fearless participation in class. When their instructor asked tough questions, Scott challenged himself to answer. “I wasn’t always right,” he admits, “but I would engage. Sometimes you learn more from being wrong—you learn why something doesn’t work, and then you learn a better way.”

Mentoring his classmates helped Scott see just how much he had learned during the boot camp,  giving him even more confidence to jump back into the job market. “It made me feel like: Well, if I can explain it, I can certainly do it,” he says. “And just as my throws in judo took thousands of hours to master, our instructor reminded us that coding is all about practice, too. He’d show us how to build a to-do app in JavaScript and then say, ‘Now go back and create it on your own. Do it over and over and over.’ I got to the point where I could build the app without ever looking at the code—because I was doing it every day.”

Fresh out of DU’s boot camp, Scott is excited to apply all that he learned to the next step in his tech career. He’s currently priming himself for job interviews by utilizing the expansive career services that come standard with the program. “They’ve helped me perfect my resume and cover letter,” he says. “And the webinar on imposter syndrome was great. Hearing so many other students talk about how they also struggle with those negative feelings was eye-opening.”

Scott’s life will always have a place for judo—retired from competition, he will keep coaching the Paralympic team and training—but he’s eager to go all in with full-stack coding. “I’m a techie at heart. In the past I called myself a wannabe nerd, but now, thanks to the boot camp, I’m an official nerd,” he says, smiling.

Ready to pursue a career in tech? Explore University of Denver Boot Camps today.