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).
Education was everything in Adam Escobar’s childhood home. “I was raised in a humble city of Miami-Dade County called Hialeah,” he shares. “Even now, the median income is under $20K. I have distinct memories of the neighborhood grandparents telling us kids to study hard as we walked to school. It took me years to understand how hard my family worked to provide for me and my cousins growing up.”
Guided by passion and purpose, Adam used education as a way of getting ahead as a first-generation college student—then turned his focus to paving pathways of opportunity for others. “Education has allowed me to combine the work ethic from my amazing working-class upbringing with knowledge of the world to give myself and future generations opportunities that my family crossed borders for,” he says. “It’s not hyperbole to say that education changed the trajectory of my family, and I feel so grateful knowing I will be able to provide for my parents and grandparents as they get older.”
Adam's diploma for his 2U-powered online MBA from the University of Denver
In 2017, Adam followed his calling to 2U, where he now serves as an operations manager: a leadership role that allows him to apply his education toward helping communities on the largest scale possible. True to his roots, he’s also one of the inaugural co-treasurers of TuGente, 2U’s Business Resource Network (BRN) for Latinx staff and allies.
“If you've ever been lucky enough to work with Adam, then you know that he's an incredible person who cares deeply about his community, coworkers, and making a real impact on anything he works on,” says Andres Rocha, TuGente’s global chair. “Adam is the backbone to TuGente; he has brought great energy to our group.”
Read on to hear more of Adam’s story, in his own words.
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?
I joined 2U because a childhood friend was wildly passionate about the company and would always tell me stories about the students she helped. After researching 2U, I realized that it was a perfect combination of my passions and interests: helping others and leveraging education through technology to benefit people all over the world. As the first person in my family to graduate college, I have seen firsthand the power of education and I was deeply attracted to the opportunity to help others reach their potential.
Adam is known to many of his friends and colleagues as "The Plant Guy"
How would you describe your role as an operations manager at 2U?
Multifaceted! As an operations manager, I’ve had the pleasure of diving into high-stakes relationship management situations as well as in-depth data analysis. It’s a role that requires both hard and soft skills, which definitely keeps you on your toes. I once flew to San Francisco last-minute to assist with an immersion that needed extra support, and I’ve also taught myself VBA coding to make my data analysis projects more efficient. Our work truly runs the gamut, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What do you find most rewarding about your job? How about the most challenging?
In my eyes, an operations manager is a problem-solver at heart. It’s a wonderful thing to approach an amorphous situation and be able to have the leeway and autonomy to explore different solutions, then drive outcomes that could be used across the portfolio. It’s also great to have a department full of talent and expertise to bounce ideas off of one another and learn from each other’s experiences. The most challenging aspect of the role is being exposed to so many interesting initiatives and projects, but not having enough hours in the day to explore them all.
What inspired you to join TuGente?
I joined TuGente to reconnect with my Latin roots. As a Miami native living in Denver for five years, I found myself wanting to connect with my culture, and it’s a bonus to do so while also contributing to a strong network in the company.
Adam (at right) and his cousins growing up in Miami-Dade County, Florida
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? And how have you been observing it this year?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to make a concerted effort to connect with my roots. Latin culture was a given in my life growing up in Miami. I was surrounded by proud and hard-working people in my community who spoke of their native countries often. I wish my memory was perfect so I could recall everything that was said, but I would never forget the looks on people’s faces as they told me about how beautiful their neighborhoods are or how loving their families are.
Living in Denver, I’m not around nearly as many Latin people as when I lived in Florida. Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity for me to put time aside to think about my cultural background. It’s also a reminder to learn where my Latin community members come from.
TuGente’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month this year is “Juntos,” which means “together.” How does this theme resonate in your work at 2U?
Juntos resonates with my work at 2U because virtually every task requires a team effort. Even the most miniscule data pull requires the use of tools that were built by teams who worked hundreds of hours to create them. On the broader scope, it’s also important to remember that everything we do contributes to programs that students pour great amounts of effort into.
It may sound cliché, but I like thinking about students’ futures and how many of them want to make the world a better place. If that is the ultimate goal, then we are all a giant team—from the students to the faculty, our Co-Founder and CEO Chip Paucek to the newest 2U interns. It makes even the smallest tasks take on a special level of importance.
Fun fact! Adam was once the spokesperson for the Planters NUTmobile and even drove it in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of completing my online MBA at the University of Denver last summer, which I was able to do through 2U’s employee education benefits. The program exposed me to high-level professionals with decades of experience in niche fields of business. It was rewarding to dive into discussions and debate ideas with seasoned students and professors, and the content itself was more in-depth than anything I had experienced in academia. The MBA program taught me how to lead with expertise and results.
Knowing that many of my colleagues have also completed a 2U-powered degree program while working full time gives me a sense of pride to be a part of a group of professionals who are dedicated to empowerment through education.
Inspired? Join us. We’re hiring.
Learn more about us.
At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.