This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. Throughout March we’re celebrating Women’s History Month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: the Women’s Alliance Network.
Jeenie Yoon believes education is the great equalizer and that everyone should have a right to high-quality learning. That belief is what has guided Jeenie throughout her professional career.
First drawn to the field of gender justice, Jeenie got her start in gender-based violence prevention work at RAINN and then the DC Rape Crisis Center. She spent her days responding to callers and survivors in crisis, providing affirmation and support, and partaking in community outreach and education programs to increase awareness of sexual assault and rape.
She continued to volunteer with the DC Rape Crisis Center as she transitioned to her first role at 2U, Inc.: an admissions counselor for the MSW@USC program. For two years she spoke to students about the benefits of enrolling in the Master of Social Work program. Little did she know that she was talking herself into pursuing a degree in social work the entire time.
With a new career aspiration in mind, Jeenie left 2U to obtain an MSW from Columbia University while remaining involved in education on the side. She worked as an intern at a public elementary school in the Bronx, the World Health Organization in their Violence Against Women division, and in a Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at a CUNY college where she ran academic success groups, managed a caseload of students, and taught an undergraduate class on education and justice.
After graduating from Columbia University in 2015, Jeenie continued her gender justice work with the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault. There, she created the curriculum for 75 to 85 workshops a year on violence awareness, prevention, bystander intervention, and consent education that were offered to students and faculty across New York City. That experience, in addition to a part-time job as a teaching associate for an online program at Columbia University, is what led Jeenie back to 2U.
Because Jeenie enjoyed talking about curriculum strategies with faculty and brainstorming creative ways to teach important materials, she was naturally drawn to course strategy. She felt she had the professional background that would enable her to excel in such a role—one that 2U happened to be advertising.
Today, Jeenie holds that role as a course strategist and works directly with professors who teach social work, counseling, school counseling, and psychology to strategize building their courses and curricula onto an online platform. She is consistently involved in projects centered on promoting learning sciences and building evidence-based learning techniques into a digital classroom. She remains committed to social work, too—Jeenie is a teaching associate at the Columbia University School of Social Work where she supports faculty in teaching their graduate-level social work classes online.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on course strategy? Read on for a day in the life of Jeenie Yoon.
How would you describe your role as a course strategist? I really like to think of my team as the boundary-pushers. It is super fun to engage in high-level thinking around how to build a course around learning objectives and accurate assessment strategies. I deeply appreciate the commitment my team has to learning sciences and using evidence-based research to drive forward our course strategy work, ensuring high-quality courses that result in deeper learning.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job? I love it when I am able to suggest something that a professor might not have thought of before for their course. When I can contribute to how a particularly challenging concept will be taught online, I feel a great deal of satisfaction with the work I do.
And as it is with most things that are deeply satisfying, this is also the most challenging piece of the work. Some course content is particularly difficult and requires a great deal of collaborative and creative energy to find solutions that work.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you? Women’s History Month to me is meant to be a celebration of womxn. (I deliberately spell it womxn to ensure that it includes and celebrates trans and nonbinary folks. Read more on that term here!) When femininity is still largely viewed as undesirable and unworthy of leadership, it is incredibly important to loudly share out the accomplishments of womxn (all womxn) this month and every month.
It should be a time where we reflect on why, despite all of our efforts and messaging, there is such a huge discrepancy between the number of womxn who work and the number of womxn in leadership positions. It should be a time of action to ensure womxn have safety and security at home, at work, and in between. It should be a time of policy change to ensure that equal work gets equal pay.
Women’s History Month is a reminder that we are living history right now—that the things womxn faced and overcame and struggled with in their personal and professional lives are the same things we struggle with today. It’s not enough to acknowledge history if we refuse to acknowledge that the same problems never really went away.
The theme of Women’s History Month this year is valiant women of the vote. In that spirit, we’re asking 2Utes why they run. Why do you run? Well, I don’t physically run unless I see a spider. But I run because I can. Because I need a community and want to create the community I desire to be a part of. Because I want to. And because I’m interested in lifting up womxn!
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you most proud of? I am proud of two things. I am proud of pushing social work programs further, coming up with creative videos and teaching strategies, and forging strong relationships with social work professors. Unrelated to my course strategy role, I am proud of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month workshop I conducted with my colleague Aithne Feay in October 2019. It was about how to support a loved one in an abusive relationship and attendees seemed very engaged!
Throughout your career, you’ve held multiple positions within the education sector. What is it about education that keeps you excited, motivated, and inspired? I love watching students grow. It is one of the most rewarding feelings, to know that something I did directly or indirectly contributed to a student’s ability to understand difficult concepts—especially in degree programs like social work and counseling.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U? Find your community! Whether it’s your team, a group of remote workers, a business resource network, or an informal group of hot-sauce enthusiasts—find your community. They will bring unspeakable joy to your life and make work a more fun place to come to every day.
Are you interested in a job like Jeenie’s? Check out our Curriculum & Learning page for more information on open jobs within her department.
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