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Starbucks partners tour ASU campus

Online students came from all over country for graduation ceremonies, see campus for 1st time


three women flashing pitchfork on Palm Walk
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May 11, 2016

More than 50 Starbucks partners from across the country came to Arizona State University's Tempe campus this week to attend graduation and their respective convocation ceremonies. It was the first time seeing the campus for the online students, who had a chance to take in ASU’s rich history and traditions the day after undergraduate commencement, sharing their experiences and bonding over their new bachelor’s degrees. 

The partners officially graduated May 9 with their bachelor’s degrees as part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership between Starbucks and ASU that offers scholarships and tuition reimbursement for employees, that covers the cost of an entire bachelor’s degree. Over 100 partners total graduated from ASU this spring, the most to date.

One graduating Starbucks partner hopes to see more graduates in the future, encouraging her employees to join the program.

“I have a partner doing electrical engineering, I have another partner doing organizational leadership,” said Nicole Dutra, a store manager in Reno, Nevada. “I have another one that is thinking about the criminology program here, leaving the University of Nevada – Reno, to further her career at Starbucks.”

Two partners, Stefanie Da Silva and Anthony Vallesteros, had both completed much of their coursework at community colleges, and were eligible for the Starbucks College Achievement program when it was announced in 2014; both signed up almost immediately.

They both talked about the cost savings that the program afforded them through scholarships from ASU and tuition reimbursement from Starbucks, and the benefits of online learning.

“I liked it a lot. Where I am, the closest university is about an hour away. Unless I was going to live in the dorms, I would have to commute while still working at Starbucks,” said Vallesteros. “So being able to [go to school] was pretty insane, not having to go anywhere — I just needed my laptop.”

“My degree means so much to me,” he added. “I’ll be the first person in my family to have a degree, so to be able to bring that to them, and hopefully to be an inspiration to my family and friends and the people around me is the main thing for me, and to use that degree toward the future!”

Da Silva is excited to stay with Starbucks.

“I’m ready to use my degree to relate to other people, to bring people together to form a community and teach others how to relate with one another,” she said. “I see open possibilities, and I’ll never feel burdened by a lack of education.”

“The bachelors’ degree in global health has been amazing; I have loved every single class," said Starbucks College Achievement Program graduate Nicole Dutra. "All the professors are wonderful, they’re reachable, they give great feedback on every assignment. Even though I’ve never met them face to face, I felt like I knew them, and I felt like they knew me. It was an amazing experience.”

Though she says that the format at ASU Online was perfect for her life and schedule, that doesn’t mean it was easy. Dutra worked full time, and is a single mother of two boys.

“It was a priority for me to do this, not just for myself to further my career, but to prove to my two young boys that education is the most important thing.”

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