These were the reactions I got when I shared with people that after 25 exceptional years working for Oprah Winfrey—first at Harpo Studios and then at OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network—I was changing career directions to join Course Hero, an under-the-radar edtech company on the outskirts of San Francisco.
How has my path led to this moment?
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Entertainment for good
I’ve spent my entire career as an entertainment marketer. Initially, I was blessed to work for brands like MTV and ESPN, which enjoyed incredible emotional connection with their consumers.
For a twentysomething in the ’80s and ’90s, music plus television—MTV—was the center of the universe.
Throughout time, one group has had even more passion than rock and rollers: sports fans. At ESPN, we harnessed the “can’t get enough” zealousness sports fans have for their teams and sports—and made ESPN the go-to sports destination on TV.
Could a more powerful brand opportunity exist?
Indeed it could. A “brand”—a phenomenon and a force of nature—Oprah Winfrey not only created emotional connection but sparked inspiration and transformation, as well as entertainment. Oprah embodied the desire we all have to “live our best lives”—with trust, confidence, insight, and authenticity. We shared stories that helped viewers see themselves in a new and different light. With that purpose in mind, every day, we were all part of something bigger: a mission that truly impacted peoples’ lives.
Tech for good
It is this same calling and impact that finds me trading TV for technology—and car giveaways for bachelor’s degrees.
Where Oprah inspires and empowers people to do more, grow stronger, and be better, Course Hero seeks to help students become the heroes of their dreams and educational journeys. We aim to connect students and educators, empower people to achieve college degrees, and grow their confidence and preparedness for life.
The need is real, and it’s critical
Why is this mission so vital? In the US, the four-year graduation rate for students attending public colleges and universities is just 33%. At private institutions, that rate is still just over 50%. Go into a high school classroom and talk with the kids. Then pause to realize that, on average, fewer than half of those kids will actually graduate college within four years! Think about that. It’s staggering. The outcomes are even more alarming when you look at race and lower income levels.
We need to change that dynamic. And we can. That is important. It’s purposeful. And I’m excited to join the cause.
My new mission
I’ve seen that Course Hero walks the walk as a team that fervently aims to improve graduation rates and substantively elevate students’ confidence and preparedness. From content contributed by our users to meticulously crafted Course Hero proprietary study guides, Course Hero works hand-in-hand with students and educators to create a learning environment that promotes positive outcomes and does so with a mind toward parity, inclusion, and access. They understand the challenges many college students face—especially students who are dealing with the real-world pressures of working, raising children, dealing with financial issues, and more, while still working toward a degree. They celebrate, serve, and support those students and the educators who lead the way.
Course Hero has built an exhaustive library of course resources. They innovate and invest in deepening the learning experience for students, in every topic, at every school. They are committed to success with integrity, with purpose and principles.
Course Hero’s vision is to create a world where every student graduates confident and prepared. And if that doesn’t sound like something that leads to Living Your Best Life … I don’t know what does!