Rstudio::conf diversity scholarships for the win!

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Applications for the rstudio::conf(2019) are now open! Last year I was lucky enough to be the receipient of an international diversity scholarships to attend rstudio::conf(2018). It was hard to believe at first, but it was true!

I live in Uruguay, South America, so it’s extra expensive for me to attend R conferences that are mainly hosted far away from here. There is now a clear community effort in building a stronger latin american R community, take a look at LatinR 2018 in Argentina and ConectaR 2019 in Costa Rica! But this was hardly the case in previous years.

The application

By the time to apply for the scholarship, I was going through an “I won’t lose anything if I try” phase that led me to apply to all of the R conferences that I could, even when I wasn’t having any positive responses. It was pretty obvious to me that they could use the money to finance 3 or 4 people from around, instead of only me having greater impact! And I was at peace with that. But I wanted to know what it felt like to live the R community in person, a community I was being a part of for more than a year by then. So I tried one more time.

I know it is hard to express all your excitement and how you expect to impact your community with what you’ll learn in a couple of sentences… Just in case you are looking for inspiration, you can check my application out!

Please briefly describe why you are good candidate for the diversity scholarship

I’m an economist who transitioned into Data Science a few years ago, in a country where most companies don’t yet know what Data Science is. I’m an R-Ladies Buenos Aires co-organizer and a NASA Datanaut (I love communities!), and as there wasn’t any Data Science community in Uruguay, I started R-Ladies Montevideo (our first meetup will be next week!) ☺ I also have a blog where I try to combine posts in English and Spanish, to reach more people (there are not as many resources in Spanish as I would like) and share what I think will help others.

What you want to get out of rstudio::conf?

In addition of learning a lot of cool stuff, I am looking forward to meeting all these amazing people in the R community. I am in touch with a lot of them through Twitter and Slack on a daily basis, especially R-Ladies, and it would be awesome to finally get to know many of them. I want to gather the experience of other communities so I can be a better host and make the most of R-Ladies Montevideo and Buenos Aires’ communities.

If you are still not sure, you can request an application review to the R-Ladies Abstract/Scholarship Review Program, lead by the amazing Jennifer Thompson for all the R-Ladies out there!

Or you can always chat about your concerns in our All the R-Ladies Slack! You can request access using this link and connect with R-Ladies from all over the world!

About the scholarship

The scholarship covered the admission to both the conference and a training session (workshop) of my choice, as well as $3,000 towards our other related expenses like flight and hotel. Since breakfast, lunch and breaks were provided daily, it basically covered all my expenses. I found a good deal on my flight and the rest was enough for me to book a room at the conference hotel (that came with a regular visitor as you can see in the pic), so I didn’t have to pay for anything!

RStudio offered to put us in touch with other like-minded scholarship recipient so we could share a room. That’s a great opportunity to meet new people!

Anne Carome was my point of contact and she was great! Very supportive and taking care of every detail!

About the conference

RStudio::conf(2018) took place in San Diego, California, January 31-Feb 3.

The conference for me started two days earlier, with the 2 days workshop (to choose from a total of 11 ones aimed to both beginners and experts) to go deeper into a topic. It is a great opportunity to learn some techniques from really amazing Teachers and TAs (some times you even learn how to use a package from its creators or contributors, which is pretty awesome!).

Keynote speakers were Dianne Cook, with “To the Tidyverse and Beyond: Challenges for the Future in Data Science” and JJ Allaire with “Machine Learning with R and TensorFlow”. There were 2 fireside chats: a “Tidyverse discussion” with Jenny Bryan, Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, Max Kuhn and Hadley Wickham, were Mara Averick was the moderator. And a “R in industry discussion” with Eduardo Ariño de la Rubia, Tanya Cashorali, Eric Colson, Elaine McVey, David Robinson, where Tareef Kawaf was the moderator. There were also over 60 great 15 minutes talks, divided into 3 simultaneous tracks. You can check the full conference schedule here and all the videos here.

We could enjoy an R-Ladies’ Birds of a Feather session, where we had the opportunity to meet and greet with all the R-Ladies, and spread the love ? It was the perfect ocassion to take a pic!

There were 2 parties involved (more on that next!). The first one was at the hotel pool, where there was some balloons and a book signing involved.

The other was a rooftop party at the Hard Rock Hotel ?

About the R community

Undoubtedly one of the things I enjoyed the most about the conference was meeting people. I’m somewhat active in the R community on Twitter and on the R-Ladies Slack, but I’ve never had the opportunity to meet the community in person (with a few exceptions). I can endorse now what is widely spread about the R community being extremely friendly and welcoming to new folks. I felt at home immediately and Twitter friends were coming to say hi as soon as they saw me 🙂

My first contact with the community was with Gaby, the founder of R-Ladies. I have had met her before, and everytime we meet is like we could spend hours talking 🙂

Then Page Piccinini kindly organized an R-Ladies San Diego Meetup, where Hadley Wickham and Jenny Bryan gave talks and we had some time to meet and chat with many R-Ladies and allies.

There was plenty of time to chat and get involved with the community throughout the conference, during breakfast, lunch and breaks, but also between sessions and at the many social events like the bof sessions and parties. RStudio made sure of that, as well as the very friendly and welcoming R community.

Here are some pics from the event; you can find some beautiful ones here that JD Long took and shared.

We ended up having a short roadtrip with Flor, another international scholarship recipient from Buenos Aires, Argentina, that was the beggining of a beautiful frienship 🙂

The end

It was time to go home, but after that I felt a completely different connection with the community. And we now have this tweet 🙂

Needless to say: I encourage anyone interested in R to attend this conference. I’m sure I’ll go again as soon as I can!

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