Contributor Spotlight: Cynthia Norman

Welcome to another edition of the Training Team’s Contributor Spotlight! In this series, the Training Team introduces you to one of our many valued contributors, and you can learn more about their contribution journey.

a profile photo of WordPress contributor, Cynthia Norman

Introducing Cynthia!

Today’s featured contributor is Cynthia Norman from Canada! Cynthia is one of the Training team’s Content Creators with expertise in theme development, and she’s also a Faculty team member. Let’s get to know more about her WordPress journey.

All About Cynthia

Cynthia is a family woman–she’s a proud nana of six grandchildren who lives near the beautiful Ontario landscape, where the wilderness is just a little beyond her backyard. She grew up in Quebec and comes from French-Canadian heritage, so no wonder that she’s eloquent in French.

Cynthia and her golden retriever, Mya, playing outside when it snows

With a background in Civil Engineering and French language proficiency, Cynthia has taught computer science, math, and French for many years. That was until 2010, when she decided to switch gears from teaching at high school to web development. She obtained a diploma in Applied Web Development, and now it’s been five years that she has worked as a freelance web developer. 

Outside of WordPress, Cynthia enjoys spending time in nature. “As a self-proclaimed introvert, I am most happy spending time fishing, kayaking, vegetable gardening, and walking with my golden retriever, Mya,” she says.

She also cherishes the time when she’s with her own family and her church family. “As grandparents, my husband and I are never short on family gatherings around birthday celebrations and holidays!” The great outdoors, a nice dose of solitude, and fun times with loved ones–now that’s what you call ‘joie de vivre’!

Cynthia’s WordPress Journey

When she was still studying web development, Cynthia did volunteer work for her church–she helped create a website for them. It was the first time she developed a website, and she used HTMLHTML HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is a markup language that is used in the development of web pages and websites. and CSSCSS CSS is an acronym for cascading style sheets. This is what controls the design or look and feel of a site. to build it. Soon after, she built her first WordPress website professionally, and she’s been hooked to this CMS ever since.

Over the years, she has built and maintained hundreds of WordPress sites as a freelancer for her own clients and as a contractor with WordPress agencies.

As time went by, Cynthia’s eagerness to stay current led her to start contributing to WordPress’s open-source project. “I felt contributing to the WordPress project would tick all the boxes for my desire to grow professionally,” she explains. “I was a WordPress Contributor Mentorship program mentee in July 2023. I chose to join the Training Team as this is where I felt most comfortable, given my background and experience in education.”

Her first significant contribution was updating the BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. Theme developer course created by Jonathan Bossenger on Learn WordPress. “Working collaboratively with WordPress educators has been so rewarding, and exactly what I needed to complement my freelance work,” Cynthia affirms.

Powered by her experience in creating many WordPress sites and hundreds of WordPress tutorials, Cynthia also decided to extend her passion for knowledge-sharing by launching a WordPress Tutorials YouTube channel, WP SOS Hub, in 2023. There, she created videos about her experience with WordPress-related topics such as themes, plugins, and full-site editing, aiming to inspire people to have a beautiful and SEO-optimized website that will convert visitors into customers.

Overcoming Challenges 

For Cynthia, the most challenging part of contributing has been figuring out how much time to set aside on a consistent basis. She shares her trick: “My efforts to contribute at least 2 hours daily have helped me grow into my current role as a Faculty Member of the Training Team.”Moreover, Cynthia acknowledges that the Training team’s onboarding process and handbook are excellent resources to guide contributors along their journey. In the Training team, there are multiple onboarding paths for multiple contributing roles, so new contributors can choose any path they like.

Memorable WordPress Moments

Cynthia joined the pilot program of WordPress Contributor Mentorship in 2023, and completing it has been the highlight of her WordPress journey. “The mentorship program was what I needed to gain insights into what contributing to the WordPress project meant to begin with. My mentor, Jenni McKinnon, made me feel supported throughout the program. We had a little one-on-one time which was so appreciated,” she reminisces.

The Contributor Mentorship Program itself is a cohort-based and 1:1 mentorship to new and aspiring contributors. The program is intended as a pathway to help new contributors find their way into WordPress contributions. The second cohort of the program is currently running, starting from February 19, 2024.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started with contributing to WordPress?

“Choose to work on one thing you feel drawn towards, and try hard to avoid getting distracted by all the different directions your contributions can take you. You may get discouraged and give up if you don’t feel a connection with anyone. From my experience so far, I have found it best to slowly build things so that I can gain confidence in one area before moving on to the next thing.”

Thank you, Cynthia, for all your dedication and contributions to the Training Team and to the WordPress Open SourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. Project!

If you are interested in getting started with contributing to the Training Team, please check out our Getting Started guide and/or join the Guide Program to be mentored by an experienced contributor. We’d be happy to have you join us!