‘Archways to Opportunity’ Program Participants Cross Life Stage at CTU Graduation
In June, several McDonald’s® restaurant employees accomplished a life-long achievement and walked across a stage to receive a college degree in their hand from Colorado Technical University. Active for just over three years, our Archways to Opportunity education program provides eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.
In March McDonald’s announced an incremental $150 million investment allocated over five years to expand access while dropping eligibility requirements from 9 months to 90 days. To date, Archways has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more.
Some of our most recent Archways to Opportunity participants from Colorado Technical University (CTU) allowed us to join them on their graduation day and speak with them about their education journey. Here’s what they had to say about their experience and their future plans.
Nicole Dillard is a McDonald’s Crew Trainer at a franchised restaurant in Mount Carmel, Tennessee. She just completed her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and is prepared for a bright future in corporate America, where she plans to manage her own team.
Q: How did you learn about the Archways to Opportunity Program?
A: I learned about the Archways to Opportunity Program through McDonald's. I was actually with CTU a year almost before I found out about it. I had heard about it before, they just didn't go into depth about how much assistance they could offer, and that was right after I was sick, so it helped me out amazingly with the financial stuff.
Q: How is or how has Archways to Opportunity helped you achieve your dreams?
A: I didn't know about this program for a minute, so I still owed my school money and if it wasn't for McDonald's, I wouldn't have been financially able to go back and fulfill my dreams
Q: What would you tell a new co-worker about the Archways to Opportunity program?
A: Well I'm already telling people about the CTU alliance at work. All the younger kids that come in there, they're going to college. So, I'm trying to let them know that it's associated and it'll help them out a lot more and that the online program is so much easier. Like for me, being a mom of four, it was so much easier accomplishing it online. So, Archways to Opportunity helps you, basically, be able to build your future.
Daniel Sandoval, an employee of Owner/Operator Abelardo Martinez, III, has just completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He plans to earn his Master’s degree next. McDonald’s is Daniel’s first job and he would like to become an owner/operator of a McDonald’s franchise in the near future.
Q: How did you learn about the Archways program?
A: I first learned about the Archway's program when I was a crew member. When I did my business leadership capstone to become a general manager, I heard about it at the presentation and that's kind of where this ball started rolling with Colorado Tech.
Q: What does the Archways to Opportunity program mean to you, and how has it helped you out personally?
A: Archways to Opportunity was the key to, basically, earning this Bachelor’s degree with no money out of pocket. It was a really good experience. The Archways Program application was really simple.
Q: What would you say to a fellow employee asking you about the Archways to Opportunity program?
A: I have had several people ask me about the Archways program. I am the Archways Ambassador, if you will, for our organization. So, I always give them as much information as I can. It's just the flexibility of the schedule, but you know, any way they want to make themselves better, that's okay for me. So, if they want to use that for a community college in the area, a college somewhere around there, that's okay. I believe education is the key to everybody's success and if they follow their dream and follow that passion for education, then go ahead, go do it, here's some help.
John Bush is a District Manager from Atlanta, Georgia, an employee of Owner/Operator Lynn Messer-Hawkins, and now he’s also a college graduate. John has just completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and sees himself in a Director of Operations role in the future. After finishing his degree, he feels ready to take on more responsibility.
Q: How has Archways to Opportunity helped you?
A: With CTU's Scholarship Alliance Program, Archways to Opportunity actually gave me a discount. That was one of the key factors on me deciding to go here versus another university, was the massive discount in tuition cost.
Q: Where did you learn about the Archways program?
A: I learned about the Archway program when members of CTU came to a meeting I attended at the regional office and I signed up for more information and then I started.
Q: How did Archways help you get your degree?
A: Archway's helped me to get my degree because I was able to go back and transfer my credits from, not only Georgia Southern, but my Hamburger University classes as well.
Denise Lee is a crew member based out of Sauwanee, Georgia, an employee of Owner/Operator Robert Swoszowski, and just completed her degree in Software Engineering. She’s excited to have her degree, making her more marketable for the next step in her career, where she sees herself working in cyber security.
Q: How did you learn about the Archways to Opportunity program?
A: Well, I've always seen it, you know, but when I started work at my local McDonald’s, it was posted and I decided to give it a try. I learned about the Archways to Opportunity program by the poster in our store.
Q: How did Archways to Opportunity help you graduate?
A: They helped me out financially, because I had used up all my federal grant money. So, I'm starting to pay back and the Archways Program has taken a lot of that financial load off me, because now ... I feel better, the stress is not there, you know.
“We are very proud of Denise and all of her accomplishments,” Denise’s management said. “As an organization we support all employees furthering their education. We are proud to be able to provide programs, such as Archways to Opportunity, to help them in their journey to obtaining a college degree. Denise is a hard worker and a valuable asset to our organization and we wish her much success in her future career endeavors.”
Every day, McDonald’s and its independent owner operators continue to support restaurant employees like Nicole, Daniel, John, and Denise achieve their career and life goals through programs like Archways to Opportunity. For several of these individuals, McDonald’s is their first job and we know how important it is for them to start their career journey on the right foot. Not only are we helping them improve with education and career programs, but we are also teaching them essential skills like teamwork, responsibility, and customer service, that will transition to most careers. It’s just one of the many reasons why McDonald’s is committed to being America’s best first job.