Local woman graduates from high school through McDonald’s Archway to Opportunity program
By Caitlin Boland

Evonne Bailey celebrates her graduation from online high school in front of McDonald’s.
Hard work and determination helped Evonne Bailey overcome long odds to finish her high school diploma.
Thomson McDonald’s co-owners and operators David and Janie Cravens held a graduation for Bailey on Sept. 22.
“Congratulations Evonne on behalf of the McDonald’s system,” said Poinsettia Hodge, human resources manager for the Atlanta region. “And to Janie and David, your leadership and organization have been role models of giving back and serve as a true example of the making the work environment great. We started the Archways program in 2015. It’s at the heart of what we do. We’re a people company.”
Bailey, 33, moved to Thomson in January 2016 from Las Vegas, Nevada, and applied to the Thomson McDonald’s for employment.
Bailey said when she and her now fiance, Tron Dawson, 33, came to Thomson they were down financially, and they had to work hard to make ends meet.
When she came in to apply at McDonald’s, Bailey was just looking for a job, but she noticed the Archways to Opportunity flier in the back of the store and saw that it offered a high school diploma online.
With her online work, Bailey also juggled working full-time at McDonald’s, her fiance’s health problems and taking care of the 17 kids the couple has between the two of them from previous relationships -- Bailey has seven and Dawson has 10.
Dawson, who also works at the Thomson McDonald’s as a kitchen manager, has had health issues since 2015 when he had his gallbladder removed. In June 2016, he had an ulcer and other stomach issues, and now Bailey said the doctors are trying to figure out if he could possibly have stomach cancer.
Archways to Opportunity is provided at low or no cost to McDonald’s employees who are looking to complete a high school degree. The program also offers college tuition assistance to employees. It is McDonald’s groundbreaking employee education program that promotes workforce education and ensures employee success and advancement.
“We have had almost 100 of our high school grads enjoy the college tuition assistance offered through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity, but this is our first employee to take advantage of the high school completion program,” said Yashica Freeman, general manager of the Thomson McDonald’s, during Bailey’s graduation on Sept. 22. “We are very proud of all of our team members, and we are very excited to see what the future will bring for Evonne.”
Archways to Opportunity uses the Career Online High School (COHS) program through Cengage to allow participants to receive an accredited diploma. Taryn McKenzie, executive director, workforce development corporate and professional for Cengage, said the average age of people who complete the COHS program is 24.
She added that once enrolled in the COHS program, participants are partnered with an academic coach, who offers guidance and encouragement throughout the program as well as board-certified instructors and 24/7 access to the online learning platform. The coursework begins in one of eight career fields before moving to the core academic subjects, and participants can graduate in as little as six months, depending on the amount of transferrable high school credits he or she has already accomplished.
Bailey plans to enroll in college and take advantage of the college tuition assistance portion of the Archways program as well as get on the track to become a McDonald’s manager.
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS, see the full story in the Sept. 28, 2017 issue of The McDuffie Progress. To have The McDuffie Progress delivered to your home or business each week, simply call 706-595-1601 to subscribe. Or, follow the link on our home page to subscribe.





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