Betty Sanchez: Finding her Archways to Opportunity
When Betty Sanchez started working as a crew member at McDonald’s three years ago, she couldn’t have guessed the impact the job would have on her life.
Sanchez, who is the mother of three young children, had dropped out of high school her junior year after becoming a mom, because the responsibilities were overwhelming. When she was 19, she got a job at the McDonald’s restaurant in Schaumburg, Illinois, owned by Laura Herrera. In time, a manager told her about Career Online High School, explaining that it’s an educational benefit through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program. The manager told Sanchez that she could take the classes online, and it would cost her nothing to obtain her high school diploma. It was an offering she couldn’t pass up. “I’ve been wanting to either get my GED or my high school diploma ever since I dropped out,” says Sanchez.
She signed up for the program, and, for the next 14 months, became the student she’d dreamed of being. She’d study and take tests when she got off of work, and do homework late into the night. Often, her husband would watch the kids, ages 3, 4 and 6, while Sanchez did her schoolwork. She says the flexible online school schedule made it possible for her to do the work on her own time, even if it meant losing some sleep here and there.
There were times that Sanchez says she struggled with her classes—especially social studies—but her academic coach, Gibson Garcon, was always there for her. When she got an ‘A’ on a test, he would tell her that she was going a good job. And when she was feeling challenged, he would call and ask how he could help. With his guidance, she felt supported and motivated.
Through it all, one subject, in particular, has had a lasting effect on Sanchez. She says she loves learning about child development. Those classes have helped her, as a parent, to understand how her own children are learning and growing. The subject has also opened her eyes to the possibility of a new career path. In addition to her diploma from Career Online High School, Sanchez also earned the national Child Development Associate certification, after dedicating 120 hours to professional career development. While she may be graduating from high school, she’d not finished learning. Sanchez says she’s now she’s looking college programs where she can continue to study child development. “I have more opportunities,” she says.
Plus, she loves knowing that her own three daughters will learn from her educational experience, as well as her life experience. Her 6-year-old, she says, is so excited that she has been counting the days until graduation. And the younger ones may not understand the significance of their mom earning her diploma and looking towards college today, but they will in the future. “Now I’m able to motivate my kids to graduate and not take the same route I went, because it’s harder,” says Sanchez. It’s a lesson that will have a lasting impact on the whole family.