Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement.
For Katelyn Hughes, graduation day is a reality because of the partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University.
“The Starbucks College Achievement Plan made it possible for me to go to school,” Hughes said.
Originally starting her college career at Grand Canyon University, Hughes left after her freshman year when she came to the conclusion that it was not the right environment for her. After withdrawing from school, Hughes realized she needed a job to help support herself and was encouraged by a family friend to apply for a job with Starbucks.
It wasn’t until after Hughes started with the company that she learned about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, and after becoming benefits eligible, applied for the program.
“After moving out of the dorms at Grand Canyon, I moved into a house with my boyfriend, so I knew I had to work. Attending ASU through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan allowed me to continue working as well as get my degree,” said Hughes. “I was actually able to make money, and not have to spend that money on college.”
As for her transition to ASU Online? Hughes discovered not only her own self motivation, but more freedom in her day-to-day life.
“While at GCU, I spent a semester living in the dorms and another semester as a commuter student taking both online and on-ground courses,” said Hughes. “Switching to a fully online format with ASU was different, but it allowed me to continue living my life, including working and volunteering at my local theater, while getting an education.”
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: When I first enrolled in college it was at Grand Canyon University, where I was studying business management and theater. After withdrawing, and once I started the process of applying and transfering to ASU Online, I spoke with my enrollment coach about which majors worked for me. Based on my transfer credits, and my areas of interest, I realized that organizational leadership fit with what I was already doing.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: I was really surprised to learn about my own self drive. I was not always the person to get up and do things right off the bat. Going to school online at ASU pushed me to do things on my own. It is a great skill that I have learned.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: That was in part because of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. This opportunity made everything make sense. It was affordable, accessible, and allowed me the opportunity to continue my education.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Focus. As much as you want to be done, focus on getting to the end. When you are done, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. You are able to get out, network and really move to the next level of life.
Q: What was your favorite spot to study?
A: As an online student, it was really nice to be on my couch, in my pajamas and with a glass of wine while doing my homework. I liked being in that setting, being able to be at home, be comfortable and just learning what I needed to learn.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I plan to continue working at Starbucks, as they are an awesome company. In a couple of years, my boyfriend and I are planning to move to New York City to pursue our dream of working in theater (he works on the technical side while I am in the artistic side). We want to be able to start our lives together in the industry. This is something we have always talked about, and now is the time to do it.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Being a theater person, I would like to fund arts education. It was such a big part of my upbringing, and having those programs survive for other kids to realize their dreams is super important to me.
Q: What is your favorite Starbucks drink?
A: I drink a Passion Tea, with no water, no sweetener and two Stevia packets!
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