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A Day in the Life: Director of Placement Tania Morales

Written by Molly Forman on Oct 2, 2020

Related content: Diversity And Inclusion, 2U LA

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 September 15 through October 15 we’re celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: TuGente.

Tania Morales knew she wanted to work in higher education and possibly teach at some point during her life, so at 23, she sought out a job as an enrollment counselor at the University of Phoenix in Arizona.

Six years into her role, Tania relocated back home to California and transferred to one of University of Phoenix’s satellite campuses in Los Angeles. After a few months of being back home, she secured a new position with Community Relations, working with community partners, such as the chamber of commerce and local community colleges to recruit new students. Through this experience, Tania quickly realized one of her strengths: partner relationships. They came naturally to her and the work felt fulfilling.

As Tania approached her 10th anniversary at University of Phoenix, she craved a new challenge. She was driving into the office one morning when she heard an NPR commentator talking about Yale’s Physician Assistant program going online and powered by 2U. As soon as she arrived at the office, Tania began researching 2U, and as luck would have it, stumbled upon a placement specialist position that seemed like it would compliment all of the competencies she had developed over the years.

As it turns out, she was right. Tania had the opportunity to begin a new phase of her career, which she still enjoys to this day.

Read on to learn about how Tania’s family and culture inspired her to pursue education as a career and Tania’s perspective on National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?

2U’s list of university partners is what attracted me the most to the company. Accessibility to education has always been a priority of mine and seeing what 2U was doing by partnering with quality colleges and universities nationwide to increase access to education is what intrigued me the most.

I’m a first generation college student. My father was only able to attend school through the third grade in Mexico, as he had to go work in the fields to contribute to the family household. He always pushed his children to get a quality education if we wanted to be successful in life. Education has been my life motto. I was the first out of all my siblings to attend college right out of high school and the first to attend graduate school.

How would you describe your role as a director of placement?

As a director of placement, I have the opportunity to work with multiple university partners, oversee managers of those programs, and influence how we shape our department for the future. Now more than ever, it’s important to have a voice in how we approach hiring practices, equitability in pay and work distribution, and accessibility to development and career opportunities.

You have dedicated your entire career to working with students. Why?

Reflecting on my personal college experience, I would have never made it to graduation if it was not for the guidance of my college counselors, professors, and mentors. I recognize that in order to get through college, a student needs a lot of support from school officials. I would have never thought that I could make a career out of it, yet here I am.

What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping my colleagues grow and develop! I genuinely care about each person that reports to me and works on my teams. My approach to management has always been that of a servant leader. My managers know I’m always willing and ready to roll up my sleeves and dive into the work to meet our goals.

The most challenging part of my job is not being able to be there for everyone at the same time. There are days when all of the programs I oversee are facing some level of escalation; this is when I have to let go and trust my managers will solve any problems at hand, be it small or large.

What’s your favorite part about working at 2U?

The people I get to work with every day! Over the past five years, I’ve fostered healthy working relationships that have helped me grow and come out of my shell. It’s been humbling to have my hard work recognized. My VP, Wesley Hauck, and SVP, Jessica Wang, have always leaned in and given me essential feedback and direction. I credit them for the success I’ve had so far at 2U. It’s those same relationships that allow me to expand my reach when it comes to connecting with new 2Utes and developing my junior colleagues.

How has culture played a role in your career?

Being a daughter of immigrants, my parents always had labor-intensive jobs. They both valued education to get ahead in life. In my father's own words, “If you want to work with your mind, you need to be educated.” As my parents go into retirement, I see the physical strains their jobs have put on them and now fully grasp why they both wanted me to secure a college degree and have the option to sit at a desk where there is air conditioning and there are true labor laws that protect me. I’d say that it’s through these values in my family culture that has played a huge role in my career.

What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

National Hispanic Heritage Month means I get to recognize the contributions my parents have made as immigrants here in the US. Growing up, both my parents told me their stories of sacrifices they made to get to where they are today. I was reminded of those sacrifices daily in my upbringing. As I reflect now as an adult, it’s those same sacrifices that paved the way for me to live a better life; a life that is filled with endless opportunities to live a more comfortable lifestyle and pass down greater opportunities to my children. National Hispanic Heritage Month also gives me an opportunity to continue to learn about other Latinx heritages that are not my own.

How will you be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month this year?

As a mother of two boys, ages six and nine, I’m prioritizing Spanish literature, films, family stories, and food in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. But for us, this is not the only time we talk about National Hispanic Heritage Month and Latinx pride. I try my best to talk to my boys about our family history in hopes that it will help shape their development and self-identity.

Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you proudest of?

I’m most proud of the teams I’ve built across offices—Los Angeles, Denver, and remote! Having the opportunity to influence my junior colleagues and develop those that report to me has been the most exciting! I get the most joy when I witness my colleagues reach their best potential. It gives me life! I was the first Latina director in my department and truly believe that my diversity adds to how we think about issues that impact our employees and how we solve problems.

What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U?

My advice to someone who is getting started here at 2U is to focus on mastering the role you were hired to navigate. 2U has so many neat roles and departments that folks are attracted to and sometimes when people get in, their eyes are set on the next role prior to truly mastering the current role they are in. To develop yourself, start networking with those who you want to learn from, use the tools that 2U gives you access to, like LinkedIn Learning and Learning & Development through HR, and use 2U’s generous Tuition Benefits Plan to take a course that will help enhance your skills.

Are you interested in a job like Tania’s? Check out our University Operations team page for information on open positions. We’re hiring.

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