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 February we’re celebrating Black History Month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: the Black Engagement Network.
A first-generation college student, SyLinda Musaindapo understands the challenges of adjusting to university life.
Upon arriving on an undergraduate campus for the first time, her perception of belonging was challenged. While she tried to adjust to the physical and sociological geography of the institution, a creeping feeling of isolation led SyLinda to leave her school and academic scholarship behind for a new university.
It’s that personal experience that continuously reinvigorates SyLinda’s commitment to education, and explains why the focus of her doctoral research was centered on exploring how community college students’ perceptions of belonging impact their experience and completion.
Deeply passionate about helping students feel that sense of belonging that she lacked in her first undergraduate encounter, SyLinda found fulfillment in being the support students need to achieve their desired academic outcomes.
Whether working in community-based healthcare education, serving as a middle school teacher, or assuming various administrative and academic positions within higher education, SyLinda has stayed true to her belief that education has always been her calling. At 2U, Inc. it’s been no different. She’s continued her journey in providing relationship-driven success coaching to both students and faculty alike.
After a series of careers centered around education in various capacities, has SyLinda found a sense of belonging at 2U? Read on for a day in the life of SyLinda Musaindapo.
You’ve been at 2U for five years now. What keeps you here? Is it the mission, the culture, the people? 2U has given me the room to grow and share my expertise and experience. Working here has helped me to see my internal value and given me the courage to grasp for opportunities to improve higher education without ever letting the skeptic win (“Don’t let the skeptic win” is one of 2U’s guiding principles). The challenges and victories that I have experienced alongside my colleagues at 2U make every day significant.
How would you describe your role? As a faculty relationship manager, I spend every day with people who have the ability to make a big impact on students. In my role, I collaborate with several departments across 2U to support faculty and administrators to drive student success. No two days are alike, but my goal is always the same: to support faculty throughout their time teaching, developing courses, and interacting with students.
I am energized by my team’s positivity, collaboration, and openness to innovation and creative approaches to enhancing the faculty experience. My favorite part of every day is building genuine connections with professors and administrators to help them overcome systematic challenges to improve the student learning experience.
Why did you join the Black Engagement Network? I have been involved with 2U’s diversity efforts since the beginning. I was selected as the Denver representative on our inaugural Diversity Inclusion and Steering Committee (DISC), where I assisted with gathering and analyzing qualitative and quantitative feedback from 2U employees as it relates to diversity. I also led focus groups for a spin-off of this committee that continues to function within the Student Engagement department.
When 2U formally launched business resource networks, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Black Engagement Network (BNet) and I was thrilled to be elected as BNet’s first Denver chair. I joined BNet because I wanted to use my expertise and experience to foster a sense of belonging and community for black people and allies across 2U. I was already functioning as a grassroots advocate for ensuring that black people have a voice in the future of higher education through 2U, and BNet was a natural next step for me to continue to make a difference.
What does Black History Month mean to you? One of my favorite Audre Lorde quotes is “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Since I was a little girl in Chicago, I've viewed Black History Month as an opportunity to reflect and redefine myself in light of America's black sheroes and heroes. It's a time dedicated to openly challenging mainstream ideologies about blackness. It's my new year—a chance to celebrate growth, perseverance, and resistance.
Your education and career have always centered around education. What is it about education that keeps you inspired? Education has given me access to resources, freedom, and influence. It’s my calling. It’s my mission. I have a special place in my soul for first-generation college students because my experience echos the challenges that so many endure. I feel it is my responsibility to help others overcome and eradicate systematic and institutionalized barriers that are in place to keep them from accessing the freedom that education can facilitate.
Of everything you’ve achieved at 2U so far, what are you most proud of? I am most proud of 2U’s culture. I’ve seen the Denver office grow from seven to more than 500 employees, all of whom care about our work. They care about being better, serving better, and having fun along the way. That commitment to hiring people who believe in our mission coupled with the strides we have taken toward becoming a more inclusive work environment makes me proud to work at 2U.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U? While learning your new role and striving to provide white-glove service to our partners and their students, look for opportunities to develop your personal brand. Everyone who works here plays an important role at 2U. Don’t be afraid to challenge processes because that’s how we continue to get better. Take advantage of the opportunity to build relationships—they truly matter. And don’t forget to have fun along the way.
Interested in learning more about job opportunities at 2U? Check out our Careers page.