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).
From a young age, Andres Rocha always knew he wanted to create meaningful work—and that vessel early in his career was telling stories. Before landing his job at 2U, Andres was a freelance video producer and storyteller in the DC area, working primarily on documentary projects for the likes of National Geographic, Discovery, and the Smithsonian Channel.
“The spark of asking questions and finding creative solutions to complex problems is something that has served me well into my career,” he says. “I learned early on that we all have unique experiences that shape our world view, and if we can understand others’ perspectives, I believe that leads to more compassion in our interactions.”
Andres’ eagerness to move beyond freelance and find an industry that was pushing the boundaries—and thinking well into the future—led him to join 2U in the spring of 2018.
“The company’s mission and values aligned with mine, and I was ecstatic to find a home here,” he says. “Eliminating the back row was the captivating statement that initially sparked my interest in 2U. Taking a solutions-based approach to education and thinking about the future of the field sounded like an exciting opportunity at the time—and it has been proven to be true almost four years later. 2U is made up of passionate and creative individuals who push you to be great every day.”
VP and Team Lead of Program Strategy José Santos, the inaugural executive sponsor of TuGente, is one of those individuals who provides Andres continued guidance and mentorship and has seen Andres’ light shine brighter and brighter each month he has been at the helm of TuGente. "Andres is an incredibly gifted leader,” José says. “He leads with humility and intentionality. He is a get stuff done kind of guy and cares very deeply about the mission of TuGente and 2U. Andres is a big reason why TuGente has been so active and impactful in such a short period of time."
Read on to learn more about Andres’ day-to-day role as a video post-production producer, what he’s found most rewarding as the inaugural global chair of TuGente, and how being a first-generation American has informed his world view.
What impact has education had on your life?
Opportunity is the first word that comes to mind here. I’m a first-generation American and first-generation college student in my family, which means I was able to bear the fruit of my parents' sacrifices. Education opened a world of possibilities that weren’t there for generations before me. Imposter syndrome is often present when you’re the first to do something—but I learned that if you’re determined and you persevere through challenges, the reward is often greater than you expected.
Andres preparing to film in front of a plane
I’ll be completing my online MBA from American University’s Kogod School of Business this coming March. Having started this 2U-powered program in March 2020 during a time of extreme uncertainty, at the beginning of COVID, I found it to be extremely relevant and applicable to the work I was doing for 2U. Learning is one aspect of the curriculum but being able to apply what you’ve learned is fundamental to your success outside the classroom. Living through unprecedented times meant professors had to adapt, as did students and workers across the globe.
I’ve found the MBA program to be a place to think about solutions to complex problems that no one has seen before, and then create tangible steps to apply them to our professional careers. The opportunity to be in a digital classroom means I can hear perspectives from students in Japan to Dubai to California in real time! It’s an experience that is extremely unique, allowing me to think on a global scale and see the impact my decisions can have on individuals and organizations.
How would you describe your role as a video post-production producer at 2U?
The role of a video post-producer is often non-linear, creative, complex, collaborative, and adaptive through the course of any project we work on. Our job is to make sure we are delivering high-quality content to our university partners. As post-producers, we often work with medical programs that require an array of graphics that enhance the learning experience for students. We work closely with our university partners and internal teams to bring the professor's vision to life on-screen. We are a team of talented and creative individuals who are passionate about creating an experience that cannot be replicated in the traditional sense of the classroom.
What do you find most rewarding about your job? How about the most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to dream alongside our partners. Our expertise opens up a new world of possibilities of how they have been able to teach by leveraging new technologies that enhance the learning experience. On the flip side, at times, we have to remember to stay on schedule and, more importantly, on budget. Nonetheless, we always make sure the course is exactly what we had planned, and piecing everything together is incredibly important and rewarding.
Out of everything you’ve accomplished in your video role at 2U, what are you most proud of?
One of my proudest accomplishments at 2U was being a post-producer on our University of Southern California Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT@USC) program. It was an incredibly complex and challenging program that required the support of many individuals both at 2U and USC. It’s a rewarding experience to be able to be part of the nation's first hybrid DPT program.
Andres at 2U's Arlington Studios alongside his colleagues
Why did you join TuGente and how have you been involved so far?
In 2019, I pitched and launched TuGente as a new BRN. I was elected as the inaugural global chair alongside Larissa Romero-Perry, my global comms chair, and José Santos, our executive sponsor. I was eager to fill the gap in representation in leadership opportunities for people who looked like me, and I also wanted to create a community that would encourage both professional and personal development. We launched in early 2020 but with the onset of COVID requiring 2U to leave our offices practically overnight and work remotely the last year and a half, we all lost the traditional “in person” blueprint for BRN meetings and communications, so we all had to become trailblazers in this new environment of ours. Navigating this new world meant we had to learn on the job. We created programming series, speaking events, and professional development workshops, and hosted the first Hispanic Heritage Month at 2U in 2020. Now, a year later, the TuGente leadership team is a group of 12 people and we have over 260 members in our BRN.
Some of my proudest accomplishments with TuGente involve the impact we’ve had on the business. We were the first BRN to partner with an outside organization to help increase diversity in 2U’s recruiting pipeline. We partnered with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and have been able to host events and attend conferences and summits throughout the year. We have also been able to mentor TuGente members and help promote their understanding of the business and support their upward mobility.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? How do you plan on observing/celebrating it this year?
Although we celebrate our culture every day, I look at Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to recognize those who have come before me and celebrate all that we’ve been able to accomplish as a community. The Latino/a/x story in the United States is incredibly powerful and ingrained into the DNA of this country, yet it often goes unnoticed. This year, I’ll be celebrating through the events that TuGente has curated for 2U including fireside chats, workshops, dance classes, Spanish-speaking lessons, and much more. What I’m most proud about for this year's events is the intentionality of who we’re bringing on as guests and who we are working with. Each of our events either features someone from our community or supports a Latino/a/x-owned business.
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?
Everything we have been able to accomplish through our BRN has been a team effort. All the leaders who are part of our BRN spend countless hours outside the scope of their job to assure the success of events and vision for our group. My leadership team is composed of individuals who believe in a brighter and more inclusive future. Each one of us believes that we have a responsibility to help others as we grow and find ways to lift each other up, by any means necessary. Juntos is the culmination of the tough year we had in 2020 and being able to reflect on how we were able to create tangible change within our organization—together. Juntos is a reflection and a celebration of our community and our BRN.
What has your personal experience been like as a first-generation American?
Being a first-generation American is an incredibly rewarding position to be in. I remember growing up and thinking that I was very different from my peers because I grew up in a predominantly white community. Unlike my friends, we spoke Spanish in my home, and at times I had to help my parents translate conversations or documents.
Andres and his family exploring Disney
That being said, it was instilled in me to be proud of my culture growing up. As I got older, I realized that my ability to identify with both Colombian and American culture was my positive differentiator. It can be hard to navigate new spaces, and at times there were bumps in the road. But what I realize now is that all of it is part of my story, good and bad.
My upbringing brought me to a place of gratitude and making the most of every opportunity. Most first-generation Americans do not have a “plan B” or a cushion to fall back on, and that is part of the tenacity and drive we bring to every team we join. I have a lot more that I want to accomplish in my career, but something I am cognizant of is trying to help others avoid the bumps I encountered along the way. I believe our legacy is solidified by the people we help, not by what we accomplish individually.
As you are the first global chair of TuGente, how would you describe what that role entails—and what would you say are its greatest rewards?
As the inaugural global chair for TuGente, I have been responsible for the strategic long-term growth of our BRN while also proactively identifying opportunities to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) barriers across the organization. I have been given the opportunity to work with the executive leadership team and cross-functional departments to accomplish my goals in a timely manner.
What I think is important to highlight as a global chair is the mentorship you are given in this position. I was often coached by our executive team, who were willing to provide insight into best practices, managing budgets, and how to align our vision with internal teams. This was a unique opportunity that provided strides in my executive presence and professional growth.
The work I have been able to accomplish over the last two years will allow for the continuation of work for the next global chair and for years to come.
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.