This content was originally posted on Open Book.
Inspired by her family and driven to make her father proud, Area Manager Tracy Hutchens knew she wanted to earn her degree. She’d enrolled once before, but when she got promoted to management at DC 6085, she quit school in order to focus on learning her new role. She knew that finishing her degree would be a step toward a better future – but for Tracy, it also meant signing up for a lifetime of debt.
“Students face it all the time – feeling overwhelmed by the student debt. Everyone is doing it, so if you want to be competitive in the workplace, then you have to get this degree. But then you get the burden of having all this debt,” she said.
As she considered the tradeoff between debt and degree, it was hard to imagine the payoff. So when she received an email announcing Walmart’s new tuition assistance program where employees can earn a college degree for a dollar a day, it seemed too good to be true.
“When I saw the email I was like – there’s gotta be something. There’s gotta be a catch. I was skeptical of trying but I thought I’d just go with it and see what happens,” she said.
Tracy faced her skepticism head on and enrolled at Bellevue University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain, Transportation and Logistics Management where she quickly discovered the program was exactly what it claimed to be.
“I thought, ‘This is too good to be true. There’s no way it’s a dollar per day!’ I paid for books – but I got reimbursed for them. It’s amazing that anyone would offer this to someone. Every part of it is true,” she said.
Going to school and working full-time, or even part-time, can feel like a lot to juggle. But Walmart’s degree offerings are exclusively online – so students can go to class on their schedule.
“Going to school online makes it very easy to balance everything including my home and social life,” she said.
With Walmart’s education benefits, students get support every step of the way. In addition to the resources available through her school, Tracy works with a personal Student Success Advisor at Guild Education.
“I thought there’d be a hotline number that I’d have to call every time – but she emails me, I text her, we even exchanged pictures of our cats. I never feel like I’m out there by myself not knowing what’s going on,” she said.
Now, wrapping up her second term, Tracy is already applying what she learns in school to her current role. While she hopes to continue to grow her career with Walmart, she knows that once she walks across that stage and gets her degree – it’s the possibilities that will be endless – not the debt.
“This company has changed my life in such a tremendous way and I hope I can make them proud with the work I do with them. I never thought that stuff like this would work out so perfectly for me,” she said.