The short version:

My name is Greg Holden. I have been working as a professional writer/editor for about 10 years and am now looking for a change. I am pursuing a second degree at the University of Maryland–UC in software development with hopes of landing a programmer or web developer job in the near future. This site is my chronicle; a place where I can write about some of the things I’ve learned, am learning, or just want to share with you. Welcome to my site and thanks for reading!


The long version:

My name is Greg Holden. I grew up in small town Missouri. Went to college at a big state school (Missouri State) and completed a degree in political science. I went to graduate school at Tel Aviv University in Israel to study the history and languages of the region. I did all of this with the intention of serving my country in the military and/or the intelligence community, but these plans fell apart the moment I met the woman who would become my wife.

I have since been working as a professional writer/editor at two separate companies for the past 10 years. I love writing, but hate writing what other people want me to (especially if it’s just marketing fluff). I have been published several times, but never felt proud of what I published because, to me, it was just marketing-speak for products I didn’t necessarily feel qualified to write about. I needed a change.

Backing up a bit, it’s interesting to me when I think about why I actually went to Missouri State. At 19, I chose MSU because of their technology degree programs. I always had an aptitude for computers and I had every plan of majoring in something tech related. However, being 19 years old and living on my own for the first time, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, leads to bad decisions. Halfway through my first semester, I just sort of stopped going to classes (not altogether, but most of the time). The grade that suffered most (going from an A to a C between midterm and final) was my college algebra grade. Every academic adviser I spoke to said that college algebra would be my big test. If I couldn’t do well in that (a B or higher), I would likely find the later courses required of a technology degree too difficult. I didn’t get a C in college algebra because it was hard; I got a C because I was 19 and stopped making good decisions regarding my education. But their advice sank in. I discarded plans of pursuing technology thinking the coursework would be too hard. I have kept the idea of working in tech in my mind ever since, though. I just took a little detour.

The other big event of my first semester of undergrad was September 11, 2001. This happened during my first month of college. I watched it unfold in my dorm room with my roommates and remember the feeling of shock and anger. The decision to direct my energy to serving my country was still a year or two away, but that day largely shaped it. I chose Tel Aviv University and Middle East History as my subject of study because I knew the Middle East would be my “battleground” over the years that followed my MA program.

Fast forward a bit: I’m married. We have two kids. We just bought a house in Germantown, MD. I work as a writer/editor for a nonprofit based in Arlington, VA, and I’m about to finish a second bachelor’s degree in software development. Where did those plans to serve my country go? Well, they vanished the moment I got married. Those thoughts of working in tech that I had at 19 resurfaced about 5 years ago. I’ve been pursuing them in myriad ways ever since.

One final note: I had the choice of doing a degree in software development or a degree in computer science. The former does not require any math, the latter requires 2 semester of calculus. Thanks to my MSU academic advisers from my first bachelor’s degree, I chose software development out of fear that I would be unable to pass calculus. I now know those fears to be unfounded. I believe now I could easily have taken and passed calculus with little worry and it’s because I want to be here. I want to study this. I want to become a good programmer and that requires, in indirect and direct ways, being good at math. Because of this, I don’t like giving people advice about what they should do given what they’re doing. If someone asks me “Which is harder? I don’t want too much challenge.” I’m likely to respond: “Which one interests you more? Pursue that.” If you want to do something, the challenges placed before you are not insurmountable, they just need to be taken head on. I regret not doing computer science, but I won’t let that stop me. I plan to take what I’ve learned and keep on learning until my abilities surpass what any academic degree can offer me.