Monday, May 19, 2008

New job has unexpected bonus, college education

Arizona DES, Rio Salado College team up

When Lovette Donaldson started her new job she didn’t know she’d be getting an education too.
On Wednesday, Donaldson received her certificate of completion in Human Services-Assistance: Customer Service from Rio Salado College along with 3580 certificate completers. Her certificate’s a product of a unique partnership between the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) her employer and Rio Salado College.

The industry specific training providing college credit is offered to new DES employees to help improve job their job performance. Donaldson earned 18 college credits in the program.
Donaldson was thrilled with the training and the chance to earn some college credit.
“I think it was a great opportunity for us. And it’s a grand statement about DES and how they want their employees really educated about the services we provide for the public,” said Donaldson.

Earning a college degree has been a long time dream for Donaldson. She started community college in Washington State soon after she graduated from high school but had to quit 18 months later and go to work. Her new certificate has given her the push to go on and finish her degree. Many of those who are enrolled in the program go on and finish a college degree at Rio Salado, earning an associate in arts or science.

“I haven’t been to school since I was 18. At 39 years of age I am finally able to get back in school,” said Donaldson who plans to take as many classes as she can at Rio Salado and then transfer to Arizona State University to finish a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Class for Donaldson and her co-workers included eight weeks of training eight hours a day.
“It really shows they are striving for excellence to write college courses for their own employees,” said Donaldson.

“The long standing partnership between DES and Rio Salado college has been assisting employees continue their education since 1994. The inspiring stories at graduation are a true testimonial of how beneficial our partnerships are to both the employees and the organization,” said Susan Lawrence, Rio Salado Manager of Corporate and Government Programs.
Her newly earned college credits have also made her a role model for her three children. Her daughter Ro-jeah, 15, is a sophomore at McClintock High School and she has two sons Elisha, 11, and Edward, 8.

“It’s been very inspiring for my daughter to watch me go back to school,” said Donaldson.
Partnering with the community has been a goal for Rio Salado since it opened its doors in 1978, said Rio Salado Vice President Chris Bustamante. Currently, Rio Salado has more than 40 corporate and government organizations it partners with.

Many classes are in-person but several companies have with the help of Rio Salado course support have been able to put their training online. The online courses have been found to be cost-effective and convenient, said Karen Stigers director of corporate and government programs.