An EAW Leader’s Perspective on DEI

Since and before I started working at EAW, we have strongly committed to increasing and maintaining our accessibility…

Published on

Since and before I started working at EAW, we have strongly committed to increasing and maintaining our accessibility and opportunities for success regardless of background, ethnicity, beliefs, identity, and appearance because we know that every individual brings value to the table and deserves the opportunity to be successful.

When I heard EAW was recently awarded the 2023 Diversity Equity Inclusion Workplace certification by Diversity for Social Impact for providing equitable professional and educational opportunities to diverse students, I was honored that Education at Work and the Strada Foundation were being recognized for the effort we’ve put in over the years.

We are proud to say that 75% of our students come from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds and 50% of our students are first-generation college students.

I am especially excited for Education at Work because embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but it’s essential for creating a truly effective and transformative work environment. By valuing and respecting the unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences of every individual, Education at Work can help foster a more equitable and inclusive society, in which everyone can succeed and thrive.

Since inception at EAW over ten years ago, we have been able to level the playing field for historically underserved student populations. We have had the privilege of getting to watch our students learn and grow through their respective training and operational program – where they often are outperformers their professional counterparts. As a result of the professional skills and confidence gained with EAW, they are more likely than other graduates to land that first big job post-graduation – and that is what makes our jobs worth it, day in and day out.

In conclusion, this acknowledgement is a great achievement and a powerful springboard to continue breaking the mold for even greater acceptance, diversity, and inclusivity in higher education and across the professional world. I hope this award encourages individuals of all backgrounds to realize their success is achievable as their effort is more equitably recognized by society.

– Patrice Clark, Vice President of Human Resources

Tomás Valladares – EAW Has Been a Vital Supplement to my College Education

I am finishing my degree in finance at the University of North Texas and will be graduating in the spring with a full-time job lined up as a commercial underwriter with a major insurance carrier.

Published on

I have worked at EAW all 3 years of my college career. In one of my first business classes, the professor told our class that one of the most important steps a college student can take is getting a job in the industry they are studying. A few weeks after hearing this I saw a job post for a phone agent position at a well-known financial company via Education at Work.

Applying for this position ultimately propelled my career forward more than I could have imagined. The flexibility offered by EAW allowed me to fit extracurricular activities into my schedule while going to school full-time. Professional organizations were also quick to accept my applications after seeing that I had experience in the industry and had developed important soft skills.

EAW gave me recognition for the work I did and provided me with promotions along the way. After working in customer service roles for nearly a year and a half, I was able to transition to a project manager role, allowing me to develop a wide spectrum of work experience with a Fortune 500 company. During an internship interview, the manager interviewing me kept coming back to the fact that I had client-facing experience and project management skills.

I believe these two skills developed at EAW were critical in landing the internship, leading to a full-time offer after graduation. I view EAW as a vital supplement to my college education. The two worked in tandem to provide a holistic educational experience that pushed my career forward while providing financial support along the way.

Zach Stanich – Reflecting on My Time at EAW

I studied my first two years of college at Portland State University in Oregon. Shortly after moving down to Arizona, I learned about EAW through Arizona State University. Now that I am graduating from ASU, I am reminiscing about my time at EAW.

Published on

I am sad it is coming to an end but I am also very grateful for my 2 years at EAW. EAW has given me the opportunity to graduate from ASU with zero student debt. The amazing staff and leadership at EAW always make your education the #1 priority. They are constantly working around your school schedule and make sure you have time off for your finals. The environment of EAW, their staff and employees are all so welcoming and engaged in a common goal; everyone wants YOU to succeed and grow while obtaining your education.

I started my journey as a cell miner. I then had the chance to move up into our first ever LVAR team. I was able to help support and create the team with my supervisor at the time. I was the top performer on the team and my supervisor asked me to help as a “peer coach”. This gave me many skills and opportunities to learn as I helped my peers grow as well.

Now that I am graduating, I have been given an opportunity through EAW’s partnership with one of our high profile financial clients. I have been offered a full-time job and will be able to get my foot in the door with leadership opportunities based on my pre-established relationships in the company. My last day with EAW is January 7th!

Overall, I cannot thank EAW enough for the amazing opportunity it has given me. It is an incredible place to work. Everything I have to say about EAW is positive and it gave me the opportunity to grow while attending ASU. The skills and abilities EAW helped me develop have empowered me to reach my professional goals.

I want to take the time to thank you EAW one last time for everything you have given me during my time here.

EAW’s Women in STEM: The 2022 CAEL Conference in Chicago

In choosing three adult learners from Education at Work to attend the CAEL Conference the criteria were simple; students over a certain age (26), who had taken a non-traditional path through education. In inquiring around the various locations we were able to find our students, and by chance, each of them was a woman, and also by chance, each was working towards an undergraduate degree in STEM.

Published on

In November of 2022, Madeline Kaye, Sara Gonzales and Abigail Ortega packed their bags and flew to meet up in Chicago for the 2022 CAEL Conference.

Here the students told their unique stories, and how they each found a community of advocates at EAW that support their personal, professional and academic goals.

Sara Gonzales

Sara Gonzales is a Student Agent at EAW's Utah campus. She is a wife and a mother and is returning to school after taking years off to start her family. Sara is earning her degree in Network Management Technology at Weber State in Utah.

"From the flight reservation to booking the hotels, we were taken care of so well on our trip to the CAEL conference in Chicago. I had never been to Chicago and enjoyed seeing the tall buildings, eating delicious pizza, Italian food, extraordinary coffee and, of course, one of the most fascinating things, the trains that ran above us in Downtown Chicago! When we went to the Palmer House Hotel the architecture inside the building was amazing! I got to see the famed Tiffany & Co. bronze peacock door too!

To say that I was excited to be at the CAEL conference is an understatement. The feeling of being in front of a group of people and talking about my story with Education At Work has been a feeling that I'll never forget.

As we attended other events at the CAEL conference and met with other successful people, we got to hear how powerful their stories are and how they got to their positions today. I came back home with a different mindset that I too can achieve my goals and become as successful as those featured in the conference.

Overall I loved Chicago and having the opportunity to attend the CAEL conference. It has been an experience I will remember for the rest of my life!"

Abigail Ortega

Abigail is currently attending UTEP, studying electrical engineering. She took a break after graduating high school because she was burned out, and found she wasn't sure what to study. In her late 20s she decided to return to college and is now studying Electrical Engineering.

"My name is Abigail Ortega, most people call me Abbie.

I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). I'm pursuing my BS in Electrical Engineering. I am a student agent for Education at Work working for one of our high profile tech clients.

This year I had the privilege of being invited to the CAEL conference. Throughout my time there, I went to a variety of events where I got to connect with other adult learners who had also gone through the similar non-linear paths as myself. I was able to meet with different partners from all over the nation and made new connections within our organization.

Overall it was a very welcoming experience and eye opening to all the types of opportunity and support there is for adult learners.

I was also able to meet with other student agents in EAW. Getting to know other women in STEM was amazing - we connected through our personal experiences. Everyone's story and the life events that brought them to CAEL was overall helpful towards my own educational/career path.

I am very grateful for the experience and would gladly do it again!"

Madeline Kaye

Madeline has been with EAW since 2021, started as a student agent and now is a trainer. She is currently attending Weber State in Utah studying Management in Computer Systems.

"The CAEL conference was informative and inspiring even during the fun events, such as the ice cream social, or the knowledge exchange hub.

This was my first year in attendance. The reception was warm and everyone was very conversational. I walked away better informed and inspired to work with my new network towards the same shared goals.

One beautiful thing about this conference was how it brought together individuals who have walked a mile in the shoes of those they support.

Some of the notable organizations represented were Strada, CAEL, National University, Purdue University, IBM, AWS, CSU, College Board, CompTIA, and many other regional community colleges and universities. Hearing about the stories of their challenges and sweet success was inspirational.

Everyone was very understanding of adult learners' journey and through various round-table discussions, we each walked away with an additional thought and goal to support for our learners."

Unique Ways College Students Can Better Their Financial Situation

Programs like EAW’s tuition and financial aid program help increase the value of college students while also providing funding assistance at no cost to their new employee.

Published on

“I had to take out quite a substantial amount of student loans, so much so that I maxed them out and I wasn’t sure if I was going to graduate.” – Andrew Bland, EAW student and Arizona State University graduate of computer sciences.

The student debt crisis is worse than it’s ever been before. According to the 2021 student loans report,, student debt has increased by 144% since 2007, causing the vast majority of graduates to enter the working world with several years’ worth of debt.

Adulthood is already tough enough, and entering this phase of life with massive bills doesn’t make it any easier. Student loans are a serious issue, but it’s something that’ll take a long time to amend.

Meanwhile, college students can’t afford to wait around for policy changes, which is why they must take the necessary steps to prepare themselves financially now.

Increase Individual Value

Everyone sees money as the end goal, especially when it comes to improving finances. However, as a college student, the goal shouldn’t just be to make money – it should be to increase individual value.

Getting good grades is great, but getting experience is worth its weight in gold. Building a portfolio and resume through job experience, internships, certifications, freelancing or volunteering will help students make leaps and bounds into their career.

Increasing individual value isn’t purely monetary, but it is possible to demonstrate skills while making money, helping in both the short and long term. Programs like EAW’s tuition and financial aid program help increase the value of college students while also providing funding assistance at no cost to their new employee.

“Landing my dream career is something I never thought possible, and it’s something I couldn’t have done without the help of Education at Work.” – Brittany Collier, EAW student and University of Cincinnati graduate of marketing. 

Showcasing skills and going beyond the classroom curriculum will better the chances of securing job opportunities.

Learn Financial Literacy

Unfortunately, the majority of high schools don’t teach financial literacy, even though it’s an essential life skill. Taking the time to learn about finances helps with budgeting, and understanding what makes up a credit score, the impact of inflation and tax increases, and how interest rates work will help students understand the real cost of living before they’re caught in the deep end.

Learning and sticking to a budget will allow anyone to improve their money management, which will decrease financial stress and help to avoid any further financial hardships.

Build Credit Now

Credit scores have a huge impact on a person’s ability to finance milestone purchases. Big investments, such as buying a home, have certain credit score requirements which can be hard to meet when a person doesn’t have enough credit.

Even purchases like rent, insurance, cell phones and buying a car are impacted by credit score. More often than not, the better the credit score, the lower the interest rate, and the lower the interest rate, the more money to spend and to save.

Ideally, people want to build credit as soon as they can, and if someone hasn’t started yet, the best thing to do is to start now. There are many ways to build credit from scratch, and the best way to establish healthy credit is by monitoring your credit score and paying off debts on time.

Save Some Money

Although it may seem obvious, saving money is essential to improving finances as a student. Start by creating a budget. Figure out fixed expenses and any interest rates, fees or taxes associated with them. Then, list out all variable expenses.

Underestimating or overestimating expenses won’t help to create a proper action plan, so try to be as accurate and detailed as possible when budgeting expenses.

After creating a budget, look for ways to save money without sacrificing quality of life. It’s surprising how many expenses can be cut down on in college.

“It’s really important to save at least a little bit in case of an emergency – like the pandemic – and having at least a savings account will be able to back you up.” – Nicholas Acciardo III, EAW student and Arizona State University graduate of Earth and environmental studies.

Saving bits of money here and there will pile up and save huge amounts in the long run.

Invest, Invest, Invest

Earning and saving money is important to financial success, but to really see finances grow, investing is key. One easy way to begin investing is to put money in a bank and earn interest, although it’s also good to set aside any extra money for additional investments, because while banking means easy access to funds, it’s also a very slow growth.

Retirement plans, such as 401(k)’s, use compound interest rates, putting only a couple of dollars into a retirement plan early on will help to grow a retirement fund immensely. Another option for those who would rather liquidate funds more easily is the stock market.

The average return on a stock investment is 10% per year, which is well beyond the interest rate of most savings accounts. However, this money isn’t guaranteed, so it’s important to research before making the leap. Ultimately, setting aside money for investments will allow growth in finances passively, creating opportunities for students to plan their retirement earlier than others.

Although the student debt crisis is an ongoing issue in need of attention, it’s important to always work on improving financial health. Life after college can be a challenging experience, but by practicing healthy money habits, any college student can get one step closer to financial freedom.