Clockwise from top left: Maeling Groya, Tsoloane Monaheng, Charlie Tyson, Lucy Burton, and Mpatho Bawuti
At 2U, our global Student Engagement team is full of mission-driven individuals who connect with learners daily to provide them with top-tier personalized support, from the first day they express interest in a program all the way through graduation. This team I lead works purposefully, efficiently, and tirelessly in the name of student success—so I’m always excited to bring us together at year’s end and celebrate those who’ve truly mastered their craft.
Last month, I co-hosted 2U’s annual Student Engagement Awards, which shine a spotlight on student success advisors and admissions counselors who go above and beyond for learners, our university partners, and each other every day. This year, I was once again blown away by the passion, pride, and thoughtfulness that went into all the nomination presentations. When each winner was announced during the virtual ceremony, the love and appreciation was even more palpable. Hundreds of congratulatory comments lit up the Zoom chat, making clear the powerful impact the winners have had on their peers and the students’ lives they’ve changed through a 2U-powered education.
After the event, I connected with the winners representing 2U’s portfolio of online degree programs, boot camps, and executive education courses. Executive Education Enrollment Advisor of the Year Tsoloane Monaheng, Executive Education Advisor of the Year Mpatho Bawuti, Boot Camp Admissions Counselor of the Year Charlie Tyson, Degree Student Success Advisor of the Year Maeling Groya, and Degree Admissions Counselor of the Year Lucy Burton were all eager to share what their much-deserved award means to them—as well as how 2U’s company culture has helped them grow and succeed, and lessons they’ve learned along the way. I’m humbled to share these highlights from our conversation, and hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.
Congratulations, everyone! I’m so proud to have each of you on this truly amazing team. How does it feel to be recognized as the best of the best?
Tsoloane: I’m speechless! It’s so refreshing to see that hard work pays off. All those moments of self-doubt have come to this point. I’m so grateful that I’m in a place where I can say, “It was all worth it.” This is only the beginning of many great things to come for me at 2U!
Mpatho: This award has given me more confidence in the work that I’ve done over the past year. It allows me to appreciate all the help I’ve been given to get to this level of comfort at the company.
Charlie: I’ve built best practices and become an expert in my competencies so that I can become a role model for my peers. I’ve worked with colleagues from diverse cultural and social-economic backgrounds, and genuinely enjoy providing white-glove service to students. Winning this award means I’m being recognized for helping students make life-changing decisions.
Maeling: My role lets me work alongside students through the highs and lows of their education, so this recognition isn’t one that I take lightly. I love that I can support students, and that my hard work is acknowledged by those around me.
Lucy: I’m so thankful and proud to be standing among all of this year’s finalists. As a first-generation college graduate, my journey into higher education wasn't seamless, so I know first-hand how important and meaningful a supportive education experience can be for students. Landing at 2U—a company that provides accessible education to so many different kinds of learners—felt like two worlds colliding, and the perfect fit.
Absolutely! The company culture here really does make a huge difference in our ability to “find that perfect fit” for both the students we serve, and ourselves. How would you say 2U has specifically helped you continue to learn, grow, and reach such impressive heights?
Tsoloane: I could go on forever about how 2U has helped me to grow, from the complimentary courses to the life-changing leadership. When I started at 2U I was a fish out of water—but through the company’s open door policy, I understand not only my place in the company, but also my value.
Mpatho: I’ve been provided with constructive feedback by all of the stakeholders with whom I’ve worked, and that’s allowed me to work toward becoming even better at what I do.
Charlie: There are many resources readily available to assist in my success, from being able to listen in on advisor call collaborations to accessing best practices, technology support, and virtual tools that keep us constantly communicating as a team. 2U also maps out the steps for career progression, allowing for improvement and changes to be made to help us reach our goals.
Maeling: Working with multiple university partners, unique programs, and students from varying backgrounds has continued to push my drive for bettering student experiences. I’m grateful that I’ve been afforded the opportunity to continue growing professionally, but more so for being encouraged to never lose my “Maeling-isms” along the way.
Lucy: 2U offers the time, space, and resources to grow into any professional path you see fit for yourself. The opportunities right at our fingertips are almost endless. My manager has consistently supported my goals, both within my current role and overall professional development. The act of collaboration is at 2U's core and I've been able to take full advantage of this.
Yes, collaboration is so key to what the Student Engagement team does every day. Out of everything you’ve experienced at 2U so far, what would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned on your path to success?
Tsoloane: Lead with kindness and everything else will fall into place. Be it through our interactions with current students, potential students, and the team. For the first time in my professional career, being kind hasn’t hindered my performance and growth, but rather emboldened it.
Mpatho: Help is always available to those who ask!
Charlie: Put the student first and always be there for the team—because team success is what drives this company's growth. Student success needs more than one person to be good at their job. It’s 2U culture to focus on the bigger picture, which means working together.
Maeling: Find what works for you, create your system, and then make modifications along the way. Things will continue to change and evolve here at 2U, and being able to adjust quickly is important.
Lucy: To echo one of our Guiding Principles, Relationships Matter. Taking that extra step to build relationships is always worth it. Having rapport and trust with other team members and stakeholders allows for more collaboration—which in turn leads to more effective decisions for students!
I love how you connect everything we do back to student success. That’s why we’re all here! For those who want to join us in the future, what’s one piece of advice you think would help a new 2U employee hit the ground running?
Tsoloane: There’s no one rooting for your success more than the people on your team. If you’re struggling, let your team know. If you need guidance, let your team know. I know that’s a rather daunting task, especially if you are new, which is why I encourage team cohesion conversations as often as possible. We constantly need to reinforce that, as a team, we are here to support and understand each other to reach our full potential.
Mpatho: Always ask when you’re unsure or stuck. Whatever hurdle you encounter, your team might have also encountered that challenge when starting out.
Charlie: I would encourage new employees to set expectations from the start and have a plan to reach their goals. As a new team member, it’s important to ensure your goals and expectations in the company are understood. Let your co-workers know your intentions—what you aim to do matters.
Maeling: My advice to any new employee is to create a community within 2U. Working with students can be rewarding, but it can also be frustrating and challenging. The people who are in your community at 2U are the ones who will keep you coming back, day after day.
Lucy: Lean on your peers and don’t be afraid to ask questions! I was fortunate enough to start on a team that allowed me to ask questions whenever I needed clarification. Your team is your built-in support system and they are there to aid your growth!
Want to make an impact on student success like these five award winners? We’re hiring.
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