Monday, May 4, 2009

Employee Group to Participate in Rio Salado Graduation

Through its partnership programs, Rio Salado College works with local corporations, government agencies and community organizations to provide access to training and career-path programs for their employees.

“Rio Salado offers a number of options to employers looking to train new employees, update employee skills, and provide employee advancement opportunities,” said Michelle Tellez, Partnership Programs Coordinator at Rio Salado.

Two years ago, a group of eight employees at American Express in Phoenix formed a cohort to earn certificates in Organizational Leadership from Rio Salado College.

In two weeks, cohort members Jackie Colon, Gayle Dunbar and Jo Ann Murray will attend Rio’s graduation ceremony, having completed their goal.

“Besides the convenience of having the classes take place at American Express, everyone involved had the same goal in mind,” said Colon, of the cohort experience. “The cohort also gave me the opportunity to build a network of relationships with other employees within the company.”

Murray echoed the sentiment.

“I had not really considered continuing my education since it had been nearly 35 years since I was in high school,” said Murray. “The onsite classes combined with the tuition reimbursement offered by the company made this an offer that was too good to refuse.”

Cohort members agreed that they likely would not have pursued this educational opportunity if had not been for the partnership between American Express and Rio Salado.

“Going back to school was not in my plans, however it was too convenient not to give it a try,” said Murray. “I began by taking one class, and continued one class at a time.”

Dunbar had previously taken classes at her workplace, but at one point the classes ceased.
“As soon as I heard the classes would be held onsite again, I signed up, and have now completed two certificates in three years,” said Dunbar. “The more educated you are, the better your chances of succeeding.”

Murray has already noticed benefits of being in the cohort program. “Almost from the beginning, I found that the information was useful in all my interactions with both peers and management,” Murray said.

All three cohort members plan to take their education to the next level. “Now that I have a foundation, I am planning to continue taking classes to complete my associate degree,” said Murray.

Due to economic reasons, Colon was recently let go from American Express, but says she will continue to pursue her education on her own.

“Being a part of this program instilled in me the discipline I need to achieve my goal of earning a degree,” said Colon. “In today’s job market, having a degree can be the deciding factor when it comes to job offers.”

For more information about Rio Salado’s partnership programs, visit