Coinbase Voices: How crypto changed my life
Trey Edwards shares his personal path to crypto and Coinbase, and how he’s creating opportunities for others to follow in his steps
I was on my way to my last class of undergrad at NC State University when I stepped off of the campus bus and was suddenly hit straight on by a car driven by another student. Luckily, I walked away with no long-term injuries, but it forever changed my outlook on life.
Prior to the accident, I was driven, but lacked a sense of urgency. I knew that I wanted to make something of myself, but always felt as if I could wait to get started. After the accident, everything changed. I was determined to make something of myself, and to get started immediately.
After graduation, I worked in different industries, including wine sales and technical recruiting, but couldn’t seem to find the right fit. That quickly changed once I began working for a Financial Technology (FinTech) consulting firm.
Being new to FinTech, I immersed myself in books and local meetups to learn everything I could. One day in mid-2017, I read a chapter on blockchain, which detailed the technology’s lofty aspirations of becoming more impactful than the internet itself.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this chapter would change my life. I found myself hooked and was increasingly fixated on one question:
If I truly believe that blockchain and digital currencies will change the world, what do I do with that knowledge? Do I continue to buy bitcoin and hope to get rich, or do I dive in and help build the future?
I chose the latter and I sought to learn as much as I could, eventually enrolling in the first (free) course for University of Nicosia’s Master’s in Digital Currency program, taught by world-renowned expert, Andreas Antonopolous.
After that first course, I knew I had found my passion. Ironically, my main challenge with enrolling in a Master’s program dedicated to the future of money was that I needed to have money to get started — which, at the time, I didn’t. Traditional graduate school loans weren’t an option, given the university was located outside of the U.S. As a result, I had to turn to a high interest personal loan to finance my studies.
Though the cost was high, with each course, I knew that I was a part of a program that would shape the future. The program focused on a variety of topics, including unpacking the concept of money, the technical intricacies of blockchain technology and the principles of innovation.
After a year of balancing both work and school full-time, I graduated Summa Cum Laude and became one of the youngest people in the world to earn the degree.
After graduating, it was important to me to find a company that I believed would help change the world, so I applied for a Project Manager position on the Advocacy team at Coinbase. In the span of three weeks, I ran a half-marathon, got the job at Coinbase and got married. (Honestly one of my favorite months ever!)
I know that blockchain and digital currency can be challenging concepts to wrap your head around, and my job at Coinbase is to help ensure that using our products is as effortless an experience as possible. I do this by partnering with our Product, Engineering & Design teams to advocate for our customers and help them understand the feature requests, bugs and ideas that customers let us know about. I also work closely with our support team to ensure that when people run into issues, our team is fully prepared to take care of them.
As mentioned, it was really important to me to find a company that I believed had the potential to change the world. Blockchain and digital currency are already reinventing finance and, in the process, creating an incredible amount of wealth for participants. As we work to build an open financial system, we have the opportunity to remedy racial inequities by ensuring Black and other underrepresented groups are not only aware of the technology but have a seat at the table to build it.
To help with this, I proposed an idea to Coinbase last summer to create a full scholarship for Black and other underrepresented minority professionals to obtain their Master’s in blockchain and digital currency. I believe that by doing this, we will foster the next generation of leaders in the cryptocurrency industry.
This idea was met with overwhelming support internally and for much of the past year, we’ve worked to iron out the details. I’m thrilled to say that we’ve now formalized the program and will be providing this scholarship for up to five talented individuals in the 2021–2022 academic year.
The first recipient of this scholarship for the Spring 2021 intake of the MSc program is Abrahim Adewunmi, a talented entrepreneur based in Oakland, CA. We are excited to have Abrahim be our first Coinbase Scholar as he shares our passion for leveraging blockchain and digital currencies to enhance economic freedom.
If you are interested in applying for the scholarship program, you’ll find more details on the University of Nicosia’s website. In the meantime, if you’re interested in joining me in building this open financial system, feel free to reach out or apply online at coinbase.com/careers.