A graduation ceremony was held last Thursday in Manhattan to honor 21 local employees who completed English Under the Arches, McDonald’s industry-leading English as a Second Language (ESL) program.
The graduates, ages 22–59, were comprised of recent and long-time immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East; some of whom have been working at McDonald’s for as little as a year and others for more than a decade. The ESL course is offered free of charge to high-potential employees and designed to help them improve their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
Student and restaurant manager Rosa Zumba, 24, who immigrated to the U.S. from her native country of Ecuador of Jackson Heights 3 years ago, expressed gratitude for the the opportunity, “I want to thank everyone involved in this program because it has helped me improve my English. I would like to continue my education because I know it’s never too late to learn.”
Rosa was not the only employee inspired by the class.
Manager Evelisa Calle, 59, has worked at McDonald’s for over 20 years and feels the course has sparked a renewed interest in furthering her own academic goals, “It’s never too late to learn and I want to continue my education for a better future.”
English Under the Arches is just one component of Archways to Opportunity, the McDonald’s workforce education program that supports employees across the country in earning their high school diploma, pursuing a college degree or learning English. The program provides 750,000+ employees the opportunity to receive high school and college tuition assistance, access to advisors, an opportunity to learn English and a pathway to their high school diploma and/or college degree.
“Opportunities at McDonald’s are at an all-time high thanks to Archways to Opportunity and programs like English Under the Arches,” said McDonald’s franchisee Paul Goodman, who employs 20 of the 21 graduates. “Archways has allowed me to empower my employees by supporting their education and advancing their careers.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included McDonald’s HR Director Fred Soykan and EUA course instructor Frank Ball.
The 21 graduates of English Under the Arches are:
- Guillermo Animas, 29, Queens, NY
- Evelisa Calle, 59, New York, NY
- Andrea Carrion, 26, New York, NY
- Katherine Conton, 22, Bronx, NY
- Keiry Claro, 27, Queens, NY
- Josefa De La Cruz, 36, Bronx, NY
- Marwa Eid, Queens, NY
- Dennys Gonzalez, 40, Bronx, NY
- Natividad Guzman, 30, Bronx, NY
- Lini Martinez, 34, Union City, NJ
- Yolanda Mestiza, 33, New York, NY
- Griselda Pablo, 31, New York, NY
- Felix Perez, 28, Brooklyn, NY
- Juana Puntiel, 35, Brooklyn, NY
- Dilcia Reyes, 45, Brooklyn, NY
- Reyna Sanchez, 44, Brooklyn, NY
- Stephany Sena, 36, New York, NY
- Silvia Soto, 50, Bronx, NY
- Imelda Vega, 34, Brooklyn, NY
- Katherine Vera, 29, Bronx, NY
- Rosa Zumba, 24, Queens, NY