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Meet Four Student-Serving 2Utes Who Are the Embodiment of “Love Under Pressure”

Written by Brad Adams on Jul 21, 2021

Related content: Program Services, Outcomes

Despite a pandemic, isolation, loss, racial injustice, political violence, and many other unfathomable challenges, our employees’ love for changing lives and supporting one another has been an inspiration. Their passion for 2U’s mission has improved academic and life outcomes for students in unprecedented ways—from delivering record-breaking retention, graduation, and job placement rates to providing clinical placements when many facilities were closed from COVID. Since the pandemic began, our employees have served more than 183,000 students, helping them overcome their struggles in order to pursue their personal and professional goals.

During our annual Company Meeting this year, I had the pleasure of introducing a panel of four student-serving employees who are emblematic of the nearly 4,000 2Utes who make service their mission every day. Each employee was asked what “doing what you love'' means to them and how that love has helped them support students in difficult times. Here’s what they had to say:

Once I started working with adult learners at 2U, I discovered that service is love.
— Heather Reed, student success manager

Student Success Manager Heather Reed

I became a teacher—first, fifth, and sixth grade—because I wanted to help people find their path. When I was a kid, my mom went back to school for her GED, and I watched her walk the stage and graduate. From there, I knew that education changes lives.

Once I started working with adult learners at 2U, I discovered that service is love. I'm currently working with students in St. John Fisher College’s online Pharm.D. program, and being able to support people who are helping the world get healthy right now hits home for me every day. What a fantastic position we're in to offer this accessible platform at a time when it's really needed, and when these students are walking directly toward their passions.

One particular student I worked with was already a pharmacy technician, and she got her vaccination certification in the midst of her studies. During the workday, she was giving COVID vaccines as part of her job but also taking time on weekends to volunteer away from her family, going to clinics and giving up to 100 vaccines in a single day. To be supporting people like that is incredibly inspiring and powerful.

If we need to provide students with that extra space and comfort and support, then that’s what we do.
— Xavier Christmas, placement specialist

Placement Specialist Xavier Christmas

In my role, I work with graduate students who are training to become school counselors or student teachers. It’s been our drive to figure out how to alleviate some of their stress so that they can be their best for their students. They’re dealing with the same things we all are, and with their careers, they’re going to be the backbone so many people will depend on. So if we need to provide them with that extra space and comfort and support, then that’s what we do.

Over the last year, these students have gotten to know the online teaching and learning environment like the back of their hands. At first, many of them were terrified. Now they’re realizing that their experience has given them additional tools in their educator toolbox for connecting with students beyond the screen. It’s been a confidence-builder for them, and it’s going to help them have a stronger impact on their students in person. I'm excited for them to transition back into physical schools so they can fully see how their virtual skills can help move that needle in ensuring success for their students.

I draw a lot of inspiration from making connections; I enjoy seeing the individual beyond the student.
— Prince Nkosi, Senior Enrollments Manager

Senior Enrollments Manager Prince Nkosi

My passion for education started at home. My mother is everything; she's the person who really provided and paved the path for me. As a teacher, she was able to build strong relationships and support people along their specific learning journey. Watching her work was the starting point of my own love for doing that. It made me realize that, at the end of the day, people are at the core of service. So I draw a lot of inspiration from making connections; I enjoy seeing the individual beyond the student.

I worked with this one student who was looking to fine-tune his skills to become a better leader. We've all been going through recent struggles and hardships, and here this person was, looking to do something bigger than himself. For me, that resonated so much because these students are constantly finding ways to reinvent themselves. Just seeing how this individual kept pushing forward—in the midst of the pandemic and all the stress—proved to me there’s hope at the end of all this.

You can see those 'a-ha!' moments… and how students’ minds have been elevated in some way. This is the absolute reason why I do what I do.
— Shaté Hayes, Director, Career Experience and Industry Engagement

Director of Career Experience and Industry Engagement Shaté Hayes

Before 2U, I was a professional dancer and choreographer. My dreams came true, and I believe everyone deserves to feel this way. So career fulfillment is that core value for me—it’s transformative for your work to be so connected to who you are as a human being. Last year, the number of students who attended our career workshops and events jumped nearly three and a half times more than the year before. This shows me that students are showing up for themselves and seeking their own version of fulfillment. They’re asking questions like “How do I navigate this?,” “How can I be more competitive?,” and “How can I just get out of my own way and think differently?”

Our work with Girls Who Code and the Netflix Virtual Pathways Boot Camps are just two examples of how we’re bringing more opportunities for access to different populations of students. This may be just a touchpoint in their learning journey, but the seeds we’re sewing will bear amazing fruit in the future. Still, you can see those “a-ha!” moments right now and how students are different after they've come through their experience. You can see how their minds have been elevated in some way. This is the absolute reason why I do what I do each day.

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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.