Associates Earn Degrees With Help From Tuition Assistance Program
Adam Shaw had a longtime dream of earning a Master’s degree. But he needed to finish his Bachelor’s first. There were two obstacles: Time and money.
Between raising two children by himself and having a full-time job as the food court manager at the Fort Riley Exchange, Shaw found it difficult to carve out time to attend classes at a brick-and-mortar university.
In 2016, Shaw applied for the Exchange’s Tuition Assistance program, which enabled him to finish his Bachelor’s. And in 2020, when he completed his Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia Southern University, he was one of 10 associates to earn degrees with help from the program.
“It really was a blessing for me to be able to further my education and not being tied down to knowing that I was putting myself further and further in debt,” Shaw said. “I was enriching my career and my education at the same time.”
The program dates to at least 1988. Since 2000, more than 1,200 associates have sought degrees with the program’s help.
“The Tuition Assistance Program is a great benefit,” said Randy Ramirez, vice president of HR Talent. “But there are specific eligibility criteria that have to be met for the program.”
To qualify for the program, associates must be regular full-time employees; have one year of continuous service; no disciplinary action; and participate in a program relevant to the Exchange’s operational needs. If participants decide to leave the Exchange or retire before they finish the program, they must pay back the aid on a pro-rated basis.
There is an annual maximum of $5,250 for tuition assistance. Lifetime tuition assistance payments are limited to $20,000 for an undergraduate degree and $30,000 for a graduate degree.
Amanda Hartfield, the Fort Bragg Exchange general manager, earned her Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Amberton University in 2020 through the program.
“It felt like it had been forever since I’d been in college, so it was an adjustment period to get refocused,” said Hartfield, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in 2003. “It helped me with my time-management skills. Time management was one of the challenges I faced, working full time and going to school full time, required extra focus.”
For more about program requirements, and to apply, email [email protected]
In addition to Shaw and Hartfield, the 2020 graduates are:
- M. Cooper, Loss Prevention manager III, Pacific Region, Columbia University, criminal justice
- Kristy Bright, Logistics Directorate, transportation analyst III, Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Arts, organizational leadership
- Joanne Cahalan, Fort Belvoir Exchange general manager, Ashford University, Bachelor of Arts, business administration
- Keesha Wordlaw, Logistics; operations analyst supervisor, Northwood University, Bachelor of Science, management
- Lolita Baltimore, Sales & Merchandise manager, Kaiserlautern Military Community main store, University of Maryland, Master of Business Administration
- Jeff Byerly, Logistics; Regional Fleet specialist, Amberton University, Master of Business Administration
- Mikel Hunter, Davis-Monthan Exchange general manager, Amberton University, Master of Business Administration, strategic leadership
- Charlyne Morganfield, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson general manager, Capella University, Master of Business Administration
- William Moring, Finance & Accounting, assistant treasurer, Dallas Baptist University, Master of Business Administration, finance
- Masuma Tiwana, e-commerce, senior business analyst, Amberton University, Master of Business Administration, strategic leadership
- Michele Weisshaar, chief regional business officer, European Retail Operations, Amberton University, Master of Science, human relations and business