EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout February, in celebration of Black History Month, our “A Day in the Life” series highlights members of 2U’s Black Engagement Network (BNet) who support the programs of our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
For the past 15 years, Christopher Beaufort has been championing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in higher education.
“As an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, I was a founding member of the Multicultural Outreach Student Team, which encourages diversity within the university’s enrollment,” Christopher shares. Ultimately, this experience drove Christopher to pursue his passion through education, leading him down a fulfilling professional path that has included ensuring quality placement opportunities and guiding the career development of students, as well as teaching at a collegiate level.
With extensive experience in supporting learners’ transition from university to career, Christopher naturally made his next move to 2U in November 2019, where he now serves as a senior student success manager for the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp.
Designed to serve as an access pathway for more historically underrepresented students to enter the tech industry, the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp offers meaningful skill attainment and mentorship to help build a diverse pipeline of tech talent. Christopher helps learners across six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) prepare for thriving careers.
“Supporting the Netflix program has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life,” says Christopher. “I’m afforded the opportunity to not only work with an amazing group of staff and students, but also to gain the intrinsic satisfaction of supporting individuals that share my background as a young professional minority striving for higher achievement.”
BNet sat down with Christopher to learn more about his experience supporting the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp—and to hear what keeps him motivated to drive DEI forward every single day.
Christopher (center, in. yellow) talking to students at Norfolk State University, an HBCU in Virginia, about the benefits of the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp
It must take tremendous effort to produce such positive outcomes like those we’ve seen with the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp. How would you describe your role as a senior student success manager for the program? What do you do everyday?
From day to day, I divide my time between a few different responsibilities: direct student support (student 1:1s, peer mentorship facilitation, and resource management), enterprise communication (overseeing Netflix mentorship facilitation, internship development, and networking event organization), and leadership communication (partner meetings and curriculum reporting). Each of these responsibilities supports the program’s overarching goal of increasing Black and Brown representation both at Netflix and in the tech industry.
What an important, inspiring goal. This work is clearly your passion, Christopher—what excites you most about supporting the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp program?
It’s seeing the impact the program has on students’ lives and perceptions of what they can accomplish—then watching them thrive post-program, whether through direct internship and employment opportunities with Netflix or elsewhere. Another rewarding experience is seeing lasting bonds form between students and their Netflix mentors. Well past the bootcamp’s end, mentors still serve as sources of professional inspiration and teach students how to succeed in the tech field.
It sounds so rewarding to witness the ongoing impact of your work like that. Reflecting on your entire experience supporting the program, what’s your greatest lesson learned so far?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is this: Though we’ve made great strides in DEI, there’s always room for more support. The reason to keep going is because there is a need. I want to be a part of fulfilling that need in any way possible.
You put that perfectly! DEI is something that will always be worth striving towards. What’s one of the most memorable moments you’ve experienced while working to drive DEI through the Netflix Pathways Bootcamp program?
One of my favorite experiences was visiting a few Netflix program partner universities this past December. It was awesome to see past, present, and prospective bootcamp students participating in a roundtable discussion about their experiences. Since many of us had been in a virtual environment for so long, there was an instant surge of energy around being together in person. It was rewarding to watch real-life connections form over open, face-to-face dialogue, and to hear the impact the program had on everyone.
Christopher (center) at another Netflix onsite presentation with Marymount University, an HSI in the Washington, DC metro area
It must have been amazing to experience that sense of community in person. Speaking of community, how does your membership and involvement in BNet, as one of 2U’s Business Resource Networks, help inform your work at 2U in support of partner and student success?
My involvement really helps me to connect with others in the organization who are supporting a similar mission. That support has been momentous, and I definitely look forward to seeing future initiatives get set in motion.
Absolutely, we look forward to that, too. On the topic of connecting with others around shared causes, how is Black History Month personally meaningful to you?
For me, Black History Month is a celebration of so much more than a specific period in time or the key figures we talk about throughout February. It’s about shining a prideful light on Black people of every nationality, creed, culture, and shade. 2U puts an emphasis on this by continually highlighting those voices and celebrating their contributions across the world.
That’s an excellent way of framing it. To wrap things up, what advice would you give someone interested in joining 2U to support HBCUs, expand access to high-quality education, and unlock human potential?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to always keep in mind the culture and history of HBCUs. They weren’t developed to separate or individualize, but to give students opportunities they historically were not afforded. It’s very important to understand and honor that distinction.
Meet more BNet members: an implementation manager, a program director, a VP and general manager, and a curriculum manager who’s now the global chair of BNet.
Learn more about us.
At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help partners thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.