It’s unlikely Christopher Schmidt and his 16-year-old daughter, Morgan, will be Arizona State University classmates, but there’s a pretty fair chance they’ll both be ASU alumni in the not-too-distant future.
The elder Schmidt is currently enrolled in Arizona State University’s online program, thanks to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which offers full tuition reimbursement to eligible U.S. partners (employees) enrolled in any of ASU Online’s more than 50 bachelor’s degree programs.
In November, Starbucks extended the tuition reimbursement benefit to a spouse or child of current members of the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans. Schmidt is among those taking advantage of the extension as he gifts his tuition benefit to Morgan who plans to enroll at ASU when she completes high school. That’ll be a year after her father expects to get his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.
Schmidt is a six-year Starbucks partner based in Marble Falls, Texas. He served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, rising to the rank of captain. He accumulated some college credits along the way at West Coast schools, but put his education on hold in the late ‘90s.
When the Starbucks College Achievement Plan was announced in June 2014, he had more than four years’ experience as manager of a Starbucks in Marble Falls, which is about 50 miles northwest of Austin. Six months later, he moved into a new role on the Starbucks Military Talent Acquisition team, where he recruits veterans to join the company.
After learning of the Starbucks education benefit, Schmidt's family began to lobby him to complete his degree. Though he wavered for a time, Morgan and her 13-year-old sister, Katherine, put on a full-court press. Their father soon found himself on the phone with an ASU enrollment counselor who picked up where his daughters left off.
“I looked at this as kind of a selfish thing – putting myself ahead of my kids and whatnot, just to set aside the time to do this,” Schmidt recalled. “The counselor said, ‘You know, the opposite is true. You’re setting an example for your kids on what follow-through looks like in the long term. To come back to education after 20 years and focus and finish, that’s a sign of discipline and sets a good example for your kids. He was right.”
Schmidt now has a dozen ASU credits added on to his earlier accumulation and he expects to get his diploma in a year. His eldest daughter, meanwhile, is formulating her own vision of the future between high school classes and soccer practice. Right now, she’s interested in the arts and sports medicine, but there’s time to contemplate other options.
Starbucks College Achievement Plan stories: A Lifetime Opportunity for Starbucks Partners