Guild Student Spotlight: Chipotle Student Alyssa Riegel
Education benefits give working adults a chance to go to school — which is even more coveted for some students, like Alyssa, who wanted a second chance to do so. Currently, Alyssa is a twenty-four year old General Manager at Chipotle in Pennsylvania. She is also a senior at Brandman University and close to achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Alyssa will graduate debt-free, all thanks to Chipotle’s exceptional education benefits program.
In 2013, Alyssa began working at Chipotle as a crew member. She had dropped out of school a few months earlier and viewed her new job at Chipotle as temporary. While working at the restaurant, Alyssa saw a pamphlet for Cultivate Education — and then everything changed.
Cultivate Education, Chipotle’s education benefits program, allows eligible employees to be reimbursed for tuition up to $5,250 a year. In 2019, Chipotle announced that it would invest in its employees further and provide debt-free degrees for its eligible population — which included Alyssa.
Today, Chipotle partners with Guild Education to cover 100% of tuition costs upfront for 75 types of technology and business degrees at nonprofit, accredited universities including The University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Wilmington University. All employees that have worked at Chipotle for 120 days and work at least 15 hours a week are eligible for enrollment.
With debt-free education as a possibility, Alyssa became reinvigorated by the idea of going back to school. She got in touch with Guild to find out more about the degree offerings, and Guild’s student coaches helped determine the program that best aligned with her future career goals.
Chipotle also works with Guild to offer credit for training, the process by which employees are given college credit hours in exchange for previous relevant corporate training. Education benefit programs that take this into consideration are optimal for most employees, who have already invested significant time and energy into their jobs. For both employers and employees, credit for training reduces the cost and time needed to graduate.
Qualifying for college credit encourages working adult students, like Alyssa, who might balance family obligations, a full-time job, and other responsibilities, that they can indeed earn a college diploma. “It was really cool to be able to count my on-the-job training as credits for school because it showed me that what I was learning on the job was actually applicable to my degree,” said Alyssa.
While managing 20-25 people as a Chipotle Manager, Alyssa studies at Brandman University. Among other life skills, balancing school and working full-time has helped her excel with time management. “I can do it at my own pace — it’s just a matter of making time,” Alyssa said.
In May, after a long journey that included classes for a health science degree, a focus on dental hygienics, and three different universities, Alyssa will graduate with a degree in business management. She’s grateful to Chipotle for backing her education and employment. “The fact that I didn’t have to choose between my education and my career was also important to me,” Alyssa said. “Cultivating a better world doesn’t just mean food and the food industry; it also means cultivating people.”