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JAZMYN PALMER, right, with McDonald’s owner/operator Twila Mezan.

McDonald’s ‘Archways to Opportunity’ program provided quite the opportunity for team member Palmer

Jazmyn Palmer was this close to getting her high school diploma.

“High school was easy for me,” she said.

But Palmer admitted that her behavior was the main issue. “Once I was kicked out as a senior, two weeks shy of graduating, I had lost all hope of getting a diploma. My parents wanted me to go back but I had lost all hope and motivation, so I focused more on work instead.”

‘Getting my diploma was the best feeling I’ve had since I lost my sister. She was and is truly my motivation, even after death.’
It’s a story that isn’t necessarily uncommon to some high school-aged students in the Pittsburgh area. But Palmer’s story dives deeper. “In 2014, I lost my sister, who was my biggest motivator. Losing her sent me into a sort of depression that I can’t describe. Every day I thought about how she wanted me to get my diploma and how her 8-year-old daughter looks up to me, so I knew it was time.”

A McDonald’s employee at the Pittsburgh International Airport location, Palmer, with the encouragement of store owner Twila Mezan, enrolled into the McDonald’s “Archways to Opportunity” program.

Launched in 2015, Archways to Opportunity is a workforce education program that, according to its website, has enrolled more than 5,000 people. The program provides assistance in earning a high school diploma, receiving tuition assistance for college classes, and helping learn English.

“At McDonald’s, we are committed to helping people further their education and achieve their dreams,” said Global Chief People Officer David Fairhurst in a news release on its website. “Some of the best people in the world work here. And whether they stay for a year or for their entire career, we believe in investing in their future.”

Through the program, Palmer received her high school diploma by completing Career Online High School, a nationally-accredited program created via Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the nation’s first private, accredited online school district. Through Archways to Opportunity, Career Online High School is offered to McDonald’s employees at no cost.

Earlier this summer, Palmer’s diploma was awarded to her, surrounded by Mezan and others. “I am so honored and thrilled to be able to support Jazmyn and other students who have the desire to earn their high school and college degrees,” Mezan told the Courier in a statement. “She is a bright young lady,” as McDonald’s saw Palmer’s potential, she said. “We are lucky to have her as part of our team.”

“Getting my diploma was the best feeling I’ve had since I lost my sister. She was and is truly my motivation, even after death,” Palmer revealed to the Courier.

Palmer, now 22, said she’d like to become a veterinarian or a journalist.

“I’ve always felt as though my diploma held me back from being a better me. Now that I have it, I feel like I can conquer anything I put my mind to. Wherever life takes me, I am absolutely ready for it.”


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