This story is a part of our “A Day in the Life” series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. From mid-September to mid-October, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and featuring members of TuGente, one of the company’s six Business Resource Networks (BRNs).
As the Denver-born daughter of Mexican immigrants, Julieta Luevano was raised with a strong work ethic and passion for education that only grew with each passing year. “My parents always had high hopes for me and my brothers to further our education,” she explains. To this day, Julieta is incredibly grateful for following their advice. “Education completely transformed my opportunities, world view, and overall career trajectory.”
Through support from family, educators, and mentors, Julieta attended the University of Denver as a first-generation undergraduate. Before long, she stumbled upon a love of Latin American studies, and U.S.-Mexican migration history in particular.
“Learning about my own history, as well as those of other Latinx countries and cultures, made me feel empowered—and clear on my commitment to education and social justice,” says Julieta. “That’s why I eventually decided to pursue a master’s degree in Latin American studies at Stanford University.”
Julieta and her two younger brothers at her Stanford graduation
Julieta thought she would eventually become a professor or lawyer—but during the middle of her master’s program, she had a change of heart. “I decided I would explore other options before committing to a career,” she recalls. Looking back, she’s certain that was the right choice.
After graduating with a master’s degree in 2015, Julieta returned to Denver to visit friends and family—and ended up staying permanently. “It just felt right,” she says. Soon after, she started a job at a college access and success nonprofit called College Track (which happens to be one of 2U’s community partners). “I developed and taught an intersectional identity curriculum for 9th- to 11th-grade first-generation, low-income students of color, encouraging them to apply to and persist at four-year colleges and universities,” she shares. “It was great work, and it inspired me to continue furthering my career in education.”
Today, Julieta is a course developer at 2U and a communications chair for TuGente, 2U’s Business Resource Network (BRN) for Latinx staff and allies. “She demonstrates the kind of commitment that encourages others to lead and make lasting change within our community and organization,” says TuGente’s global chair Andres Rocha of Julieta’s contributions. “She is thoughtful, strategic, and incredibly smart, and we are lucky to have her.”
Read on to hear more of Julieta’s story, in her own words.
Denver’s TuGente leadership team (Julieta at left)
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?
I was looking for opportunities in education technology, as I saw the potential for technology to be a more accessible avenue for higher education. I came across 2U one day during my search and decided to apply because of the company’s mission and culture. I began working for 2U as a placement specialist in 2018 and then became a course developer in the Curriculum & Learning department in 2019.
How would you describe your role as a course developer at 2U?
I work with faculty members at 2U’s partner universities and our internal 2U teams to create quality, accessible, and engaging online courses for students. As course developers, we utilize adult-learning theory to help design courses at the element level, ensuring learning outcome alignment for asynchronous activities, slides and learning aids, video assets, assessments, and synchronous session materials. I lead faculty-facing meetings, as well as manage the course development process from planning to completion for my assigned courses. Additionally, I participate in department-wide pilot deployments and initiatives related to process improvement, strategic integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in course design, and learning management system (LMS) pilots.
What do you find most rewarding about your job? How about the most challenging?
It can be challenging to manage so much change in our department at times, but I’m thankful to be on a team of great people with whom to navigate it all. The people I’ve worked with at 2U are dedicated, kind, and smart, which makes working with them the most rewarding part of my job. Another great part of my job is working remotely, because it means I get to hang out more with these furry friends! (See photo.)
Julieta's furry friends
Why did you join TuGente and how have you been involved so far?
I joined TuGente as a communications chair after volunteering for 2020’s Hispanic Heritage Month events. It’s been great getting to know other Latinx colleagues and 2Utes in general throughout all of our events. Part of my role on our small but mighty communications team is to help manage a monthly newsletter, in which we spotlight Latinx 2Utes across the company, feature blogs written by TuGente members, and update members on TuGente/Latinx current events, initiatives, events, and ways to participate.
One activity that I helped plan and am excited about is this quarter’s Anti-Oppression Speaker Series event, “Reconciliation y Justicia: Beyond Latinx Inclusion for Solidarity” featuring Dr. Soribel Genao, Ph.D., and Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez, Ph.D. The topic and speakers are so engaging!
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? How have you been / will you be celebrating it this year?
Latin America has an extensive history of resiliency and strength that has withstood the test of time throughout colonization, wars, and other adverse historical events. This complex tapestry of events has contributed toward amazing cultures, languages, people, food, and traditions. Our heritage month is a reminder to celebrate all of these things, honor our history, and continue to push for solidarity and justice in our communities, even beyond the heritage month. Though I live and celebrate my culture every day, I plan on trying to engage as many 2Utes in events as possible, dance, and of course eat lots of delicious Latin American foods!
TuGente’s specific theme for Hispanic Heritage Month this year is “Juntos,” which means “together.” How does this theme specifically resonate in your work at 2U?
We are going through a lot of change both in our workplaces and in the world. The best way to go through it is together, or juntos, in order to support each other through the challenges that so much change can bring. It has been grounding to have a community of caring people within my Curriculum & Learning team, and also within TuGente, to help navigate the past few years. People are constantly looking for ways to make things better for themselves and others at 2U, which is inspiring and makes me want to do my part to help.
One of Julieta’s favorite memories of celebrating her birthday with her abuelita
What has your personal experience been like as a first-generation Mexican-American?
Being a first-generation Mexican-American is “living in the borderlands,” as late author and activist Gloria Anzaldúa put it. As her book synopsis reads, “Borderlands/La Frontera remaps our understanding of what a ‘border’ is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us.” Living in the borderlands means my sense of home spans across borders, generations, languages, and cultures. Home is a story of those who came before me, which I carry with me wherever I go.
I often think about my family, their story of migration and struggle here, but also all of the amazing things they’ve taught me. My maternal grandmother was widowed with nine children when she was 35 years old, which left them in severe poverty. Her eldest children began migrating to America out of a need for survival. My mom arrived when she was 18 years old. My dad and his family also came from poverty and decided to migrate to the U.S. for better opportunities. He arrived when he was 10. They had to work hard and sacrificed a lot to survive and make a life here. My grandmother and parents have instilled in me a strong sense of community and dedication, which has significantly influenced the path I’ve taken so far.
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you most proud of?
During my time as a course developer, I’ve joined committees within my department to learn more about what makes online courses better, such as the Data Committee, the DEI in Course Design Committee, and the Element-Level Quality Framework Initiative. My involvement has really helped inform my work, and I look for opportunities to continue growing and learning in this field.
I’m also proud to be a part of TuGente’s leadership team. The experience has been rewarding because I joined a community of Latinx professionals who want to do great things at 2U. It’s made work busier, you could say, but in a good way! We’ve all been able to support each other and have fun together.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U?
I would say to get involved in groups and efforts that interest you, and get to know people across the company. There’s something for everyone at 2U—and if TuGente sounds like it’s up your alley, come join!
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