Her life was not easy, but she wants yours to be.
Encompassing all that Gabby Taylor is, into a simple blog post, is a nearly impossible task. The numerous stories she carries within her are both inspiring and enthralling. And when you chat with Gabby, you should be seated because you won’t want to get up from what she has to say. She is constantly bubbling with an inner joy so strong, that at any given moment it threatens to spill out onto her lips into a broad smile and contagious laugh. So who is this woman? We are proud to call this charismatic and powerful woman “Linux/DevOps Content Support Team Lead”: a fancier way of saying, she’s the one who’s got your back.
And if there’s anyone our students need in their corner, championing their goals and improving content every moment of the day, it’s Gabby. Quite frankly, she can’t stop talking about you. She’s so absorbed in better addressing learners’ needs, that it was difficult to get her to talk only about herself. But that’s who Gabby is. She is selfless and intent on listening to your feedback, positive and negative, and using it to better our materials and better your chances of landing that promotion, new job, or cloud understanding. She is a true force for getting you to that next step. But it wasn’t all that long ago that she was fighting to figure out her own next step.
Wonder woman is not a myth.
Almost 10 years ago, while working as a caregiver in an Alzheimer’s unit, Gabby noticed something strange. In the midst of caring for others, she almost ignored her own health concerns. She noticed a large bump on the side of her neck that seemed to grow almost daily. Her grandma encouraged her to seek a doctor and even told her plainly
“I think you may have cancer.”
After multiple concerned looks from doctors, Gabby found out in 2010 that she had an aggressive form of Lymphoma. After an initial fear of treatment at such a young age (19 years old), Gabby’s family and doctors convinced her to go through chemotherapy. Which included lots of medications, very large needles, losing hair, and questions for what the future might hold. Finally, after over ten months of chemotherapy treatments, Gabby was grateful to be declared, and remains to this day, in remission! However, the extensive and painful treatments left Gabby with looming medical bills and in need of a job, quick.
That’s when a friend of hers encouraged her to join a hosting company, which sparked her interest in software systems and the cloud. Looking back on this time in her life, Gabby laughs at herself and mentions,
“When I started, I didn’t know anything about Linux except how to spell it.”
So for 8 years, Gabby worked tirelessly to prove herself. We mentioned in a previous post that women and minorities are struggling to make their voices heard in tech, and Gabby was not immune to this problem. She considered that employer
“a very male-dominated atmosphere, they didn’t want to help someone like me.”
but through her tenacity and optimism, she continued.
“I just pushed as hard as I could, but when you refuse to take shortcuts, it takes longer.”
But she was determined to learn more and (with no Linux Academy at the time) she bought book after book to supplement her learning- propelling her career and taking her future back. She even took a graveyard shift position because, although not ideal, it allowed her to advance. But eventually, after years of fighting to be seen, heard, and acknowledged for her efforts, Gabby decided it was time to find a new company to call home. Enter, Linux Academy.
Gabby T-1000 and Linux Academy
While the team at Linux Academy knew Gabby had impressive skills, they were still amazed at just how many times she had been promoted at her previous company. As Gabby phrases it best, and you will often hear her say,
“It’s not always what you know, but what you do with what you don’t know”
And she did a lot. Even after an intense car accident a few years ago left her with a permanent implant to help alleviate nerve pain, Gabby persists. Now she isn’t just a superhero, but some also began referring to her as “Gabby T-1000”. But we like to think it’s probably because of how quickly she completes a ticket. Along with her support team, your favorite content support lead continues to sort through and answer literally thousands of tickets each week.
“We’re focused on achieving that daily turnaround. And I’m always working on formulating better processes.”
So every time you view content and send in your up/downvote, Gabby’s team sees your comments. ALL OF THEM. She works at robotic speeds but with the kindness and understanding of your most trusted friend. However, listening to feedback can not only be daunting but can easily be disheartening- seeing every single negative comment, especially. But somehow, with the heroic positivity of wonder woman, Gabby continues to be fulfilled and grateful for what she does each day at Linux Academy.
“I never thought that I would come to a company like this. No place is perfect but it’s just …I can’t even explain it, it’s just exactly what it should be.”
Never done learning, always growing
And we still consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have someone like Gabby on our team. She acts as a constant reminder to students and staff that truly, anything is possible. No matter who you are, what obstacles you encounter, or how others treat you, you can forge something beautiful.
“If we can all work together to make something better, that’s the best thing in the world.”
At Linux Academy, Gabby has found a place to continue learning, developing her skills, and make a huge impact. Even when pressed on her personal goals and dreams, they always include helping others.
“I’m so happy now, I feel like I’ve gone so far and there’s so much more to go. But I really enjoy helping other people ‘go’ too. I’m just a helper.”
And seeing our learners go further, faster, is what we’re all about at Linux Academy. Which makes Gabby not only instrumental in our plans for bringing the best content to even more learners but also a true embodiment of our deepest values. This woman is “building off of the things [she] built [for herself]”, and we think that’s pretty admirable. And she does it all while enduring chronic pain. How is that possible? She blows our minds. But we can’t decide if she’s fully human- maybe she’s a hero from the future, maybe she’s a friendly robot, but we’re sure glad she’s on our side.
A hopeful future
To sum up Gabby, and what she hopes for our learners, she wants you to know this:
“We’re all guilty of not making time for ourselves. You are worth it, you are worth spending the time to get there. And you won’t be alone in that process. We can show you.”
We all start somewhere. And it’s never the wrong time to change your life. Gabby exemplifies what it means to persist with that same spirit. Heck, when we spoke to her she was still putting away boxes of her belongings, now ruined after Houston was flooded during her move. But she was still all smiles and overflowing cheer. And we all need more of that. We all need more Gabby grace and Gabby gusto. So thank you Gabby, for all that you do for us, in heroic fashion.
And if you want to have even more interactions with Gabby, reach out to her here. And let her know how her story gave you the drive to start something new. She’s a friend, mentor, and advocate for so many, so don’t be shy.