Photo essay: Caps off to the class of 2024

This month, more than 1,000 Starbucks partners (employees) representing 47 states graduated from Arizona State University through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Hundreds of graduates traveled to Tempe with their family and friends to celebrate this milestone achievement, enjoying festivities tailored just for partners who proudly wear the green apron.  

As the photos below show, every graduate has a unique story to share about the journey to earning their first college degree.  

Throw Your Cap Winners  

Every graduation, Starbucks holds a contest for graduates to share their SCAP story. This year, three partners were selected to earn a company-paid trip to Arizona. Congratulations to the latest Throw Your Cap winners: academic standout Kalyn Denton, baby boomer June Walker-Tillett and star store manager Selene Leong.  

Graduation By the Numbers  

On May 6, hundreds of SCAP graduates walked the field for spring commencement. Did you know that 90 percent of this year’s class are retail hourly partners from Starbucks stores? This means each partner works at least 20 hours in store per week to qualify for 100% upfront tuition coverage. 

Academic Excellence  

Throw Your Cap winner Kayln Denton took an unconventional path by starting SCAP as a partner at Starbucks in 2020 before leaving to deploy with FEMA during the COVID-19 pandemic. She later returned as a barista to continue leveraging the upfront tuition benefit. Majoring in sustainability with a minor in justice studies, she had the honor of walking the stage after being named Outstanding Undergraduate from the College of Global Futures. 

Ten years of impact and building a bridge to a better future for our partners 

Since the start of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in 2014, more than 13,000 partners have graduated from Arizona State University. Today, more than 25,000 partners are participating in SCAP. Once again, this year’s participants include large numbers of first-generation students looking to join the 75 percent of graduates who’ve reported career progression thanks to their degrees from ASU. And there really is no catch: Partners have zero obligation to stay with Starbucks after they matriculate. Starbucks supports and appreciates all partners who wish to balance work with learning, no matter what their dreams and aspirations.  

Partners celebrating – together  

Four years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, this year’s in-person celebration took on a new level of meaning. From a festive welcome reception to an emotional open forum for families and the big walk to graduation – partners cherished the opportunity to celebrate and bond with their peers. While they may have endured many lonely nights of studying, a core theme emerged this year when partners shared stories of getting through SCAP together with the support of their friends and loved ones. 

In the top-left photo below, Kathryn Schubert and Austin Nottingham are two barista trainers and Coffee Masters who went through the program together. Now engaged, they sealed their joint achievement with a warm embrace. In the top-right photo, partners share high-fives all around. And, in the final photo at the bottom, is another Starbucks love story unfolding as Josh Paz and Melissa Addiego linger on the field and dance. Now that they’ve graduated what will they do? Get married, of course.  

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How Starbucks made a splash with its new (and blue!) summer drink with popping pearls