From the Streets to Silicon Valley: An AI Researcher’s Journey of Overcoming Addiction and Rising in the Tech World

In a world filled with overwhelming obstacles, those who overcome adversity and go on to help others are a profound source of inspiration. Regina Grogan, an innovative AI researcher, embodies the transformative power of resilience. Her captivating journey from addiction and homelessness to becoming a leading figure in Silicon Valley has captured the admiration of the tech world. With an unwavering commitment to utilizing technology for the betterment of society, Grogan defied personal hardships and soared to esteemed positions at Google and Adobe, establishing herself as a trailblazer in the field of artificial intelligence.

Grogan’s path to success was far from conventional. She became addicted to benzodiazepines in 2013 and then dropped out of the University of Utah. Her parents severed ties with her, leaving her without a support system. 

Grogan soon moved to California in an attempt to escape her addiction. However, within a month, she found herself homeless, embroiled in the harrowing world of substance abuse, including the fentanyl crisis.

Life on the streets was riddled with danger and despair as Grogan confronted multiple assaults and had to hustle for survival. The pursuit of her dreams seemed distant and unattainable, with job opportunities remaining elusive. Not only would nobody employ her, shops and restaurants wouldn’t even let her use the bathroom in their establishment.

Grogan’s journey took a significant turn in 2015 when she experienced a severe accident that left her hospitalized. She was in the hospital for weeks, where she detoxed from drugs. She found the strength to break free from addiction and begin helping others through the transformative potential of technology.

With newfound determination, Grogan seized an opportunity in 2015 when she secured a temporary position through an agency, a temp job that turned out to be with none other than Google. Starting at $20 per hour, she embarked on a path that would ultimately lead to widespread industry recognition.

The forward-looking Grogan’s professional accomplishments stand as a testament to her unwavering passion and exceptional talent. After specializing in human-computer Interaction at New York University, she landed positions at Google and Adobe. At Google, she conducted comprehensive UX research, evaluating over 1,000 mobile apps and culminating in the publication of the groundbreaking Think with Google e-commerce study.