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 May we’re celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and featuring 2Utes of Asian-Pacific Islander (API) descent.
Growing up, it was dance that captured the heart, mind, and soul of Jeffrey Viray. From performing on stage and live television professionally to teaching across the nation, Jeff spent his early adult years immersed in the arts.
Jeff thrived on the rush of sharing his passion, which was actualized through a juniors dance team he co-created called Team Millennia Juniors (TM Juniors). Featured on seasons two and three of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, TM Juniors was founded on the premise of bringing youth together in a safe, family-friendly environment to learn and train in dance, and instill students with the skills to succeed on and off the dance floor. It was with TM Juniors that Jeff honed his leadership and coaching skills, which is what led him on the path to a second career in education.
Now a senior student success advisor at 2U, Inc., Jeff is utilizing his unique background in artistry and channeling his unyielding motivation to help others realize their potential by helping students achieve academic success and, in turn, make significant impacts on their communities. Jeff has always been driven by an interest to serve—first through performance and now by transforming lives through higher education. He plans to continue to make strides to improve the world in which we live.
Are you interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a student success advisor and Jeff's perspective as a 2Ute of Asian-Pacific Islander (API) descent? Read on for a day in the life of Jeff Viray.
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?
Understanding that technology is the future and that the future is now, I believe 2U is positioned to lead higher education to the next revolution. What resonates with me the most is 2U’s focus on student outcomes. “When students win, universities win, and 2U wins.” Moreover, 2U bridges my career interest with my personal interest in technology. I believe opportunities are endless at 2U.
How would you describe your role as a senior student success advisor?
In my current role, I use my creativity and educational background to collaborate and problem solve with students so that they can overcome the hurdles that can get in the way of their success. I am fortunate to play a supportive role to hundreds of students in their journey to realizing their career aspirations, and who later go on to make positive impacts in their respective communities. That is the most fulfilling part of the job. Whether it’s teaching a dance move in my former career or coaching through a complex situation in graduate school, my focus has always been improving the lives of others so that together, we can live a better tomorrow.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job?
The most challenging part of my job is leveraging our resources and technology to enhance the student experience. There is no road map for innovation. But at the same time, this is the most exciting part of my job—gathering, analyzing, and activating quantitative and qualitative student data to continue to foster unparalleled support to help students succeed. In many ways, 2U has already done just that, but we can always do more, particularly in unprecedented times like we are in today.
What’s your favorite part about working at 2U?
The people. Easily. Through the ups and downs, my team always supports one another. We lean on each other to get through the tough days and celebrate the wins—small or big—together. This is even more powerful now, when affirmation and self-care are so critical to our well-being, and therefore our ability to serve our students. Our managers have really led by example these last few months, and I am grateful for that guidance.
Before 2U, you spent the majority of your career in some form of academia, including providing academic, talent, and recruiting support to two of our partners: The University of Arizona and USC. Was it those jobs that led you to 2U?
In transitioning out of my dance career, I knew I could build a second career in education. But at the time, I didn’t know where or in what capacity. My experiences at the University of Arizona and USC played a role in helping me to recognize the plethora of opportunities within higher education. In fact, it was through a student leadership position I held while at USC where I worked with prospective students that I realized the career path that led me to my job today. An advisor in the recruitment office recommended 2U as a possible landing spot post-graduation, and nearly four years later, here I am.
You are nearly done with an MBA online through Syracuse University’s 2U-powered program. Why did you choose to pursue an MBA?
Learning is a lifelong pursuit. If I’m not challenging myself, then what am I really doing? It’s a mindset that I’ve adopted, and pursuing an MBA is this mindset in action. I chose an MBA to better prepare for when the right opportunity presents itself to propel my career into management and leadership. Syracuse University’s prestige and network are what appealed to me. I finish at the end of the year.
What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
It’s a time to reflect on family and celebrate our roots. My parents instilled onto my brothers and me the Filipino values of family, community, and service to others. And now that I have a family of my own, this month is a reminder to myself about the same values that I want to instill in my daughter, Adeline. She is half Filipino and half Japanese, so I am fortunate to pass along what my family has taught me but also learn the Japanese culture with her.
Who is your Asian-Pacific Islander (API) icon?
It’s hard to pinpoint one, but what comes to mind during the present-day pandemic are all the Filipino nurses on the frontlines. It's cliché to joke that if you’re Filipino, there’s a high chance that you are a nurse, but my mom has been a nurse for more than 30 years. I couldn’t be any prouder than I am today of these nurses and healthcare practitioners. To me, my family and friends who are serving on the frontlines are deserving to be the icons of today.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U?
Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self. 2Utes across the globe are very supportive.
Are you interested in a job like Jeff’s? Check out our Student Engagement team page for more information.
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