Jon Liechty, senior vice president, U.S. retail operations 

Bachelor’s degree in philosophy

Jon Liechty had always considered himself a good student. In high school he got good grades and took so many advanced placement classes that he started college at the age of 17 at the level of almost a junior. But then he quickly flunked out.  

“It was such a shock for me, because, you know, academics had not been something I ever struggled with,” said Liechty. “I was always highly successful but got to a point where I required more discipline and self starting than I had at that point in my life. And, you know, I was entirely lost.” 

Not knowing what to do and needing a job, he started working as a barista in 1999. He’s been with Starbucks ever since and now is a senior vice president of U.S. retail operations. But not having a college degree, always “nagged in the back of my head,” he said. “It was unfinished business, practically speaking. And it was a source of massive insecurity.” 

After the SCAP program launched, he decided to change that, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He graduated in 2018, something that he said gave him a greater sense of confidence.  

Going to classes with retail partners deepened his understanding of their day-to-day lives, he said. “I was constantly in classes with Starbuck partners working in the stores. … At the end of the day, I was just another student.”  

Liechty is an evangelist for SCAP now. “I tell them that if I can do it, I know you can do it. I was lapsed for 20 years,” he said. “... I believe that we’re in a constant state of becoming who we are.” 

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