McDonald’s has just celebrated their 1,500th restaurant employee to graduate from Career Online High School through the corporation’s Archways to Opportunity program. The company applauds the eligible restaurant employees who took advantage of the opportunity to advance their educational and career goals.

McDonald’s is among a growing number of corporations, nonprofits, workforce boards, and public libraries across the country who offer scholarships to the accredited online program. In total, more than 12,500 students have graduated from Career Online High School. For busy working adults with past struggles completing high school, the 100% online flexibility, extensive student support, and competency-based, career-focused learning provide the keys to success.

Employee Portia Kelly, pictured above, who has worked for McDonald’s franchisee John Blickle in Akron, OH, for two years, is among the proud 1,500. She earned her high school diploma along with a career certificate in home care professional. She plans to leverage her high school education to pursue further certification in counseling with a goal of becoming a peer recovery coach.

“My diploma gets me going in my life and opens more doors for me,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s friends, colleagues, and family gathered at her restaurant to honor her achievement in a graduation ceremony. Blickle, who has been an Archways to Opportunity advocate from its 2015 launch, was on hand to celebrate. “Archways provides a lot of value not only to our organization but to the people who go through the process,” he said.

And he’s right. Students who graduate with a high school diploma earn almost $8,500 more a year, or $250,000 in their lifetime, than individuals who do not have a high school diploma.1 Additionally, 76% of all Career Online High School graduates pursue or plan to pursue postsecondary education, further increasing their career opportunities and earning potential.2

Kelly credited her Career Online High School Academic Coach with keeping her on course. “She encouraged me. She stuck in there with me through the whole thing. She pushed me and made me believe in myself.”

Kelly’s daughter summed up the celebration: “I am so proud and so happy to be here with you. This is just the beginning; you have so much more to accomplish.”

Owner Operator John Blickle from Rubber City McDonald’s in Akron, Ohio, with employee Portia Kelly, celebrating her COHS graduation
Portia Kelly is joined by John Blickle, Archways advocate and Owner Operator of her restaurant location