I’m getting my B.A. at no cost to me—thanks to my union!

By Tonia McMillian

A Child Care Provider in Bellflower
& SEIU Local 99 Treasurer

I have a giant mountain of college debt. My pulse races a little bit whenever I think about the tens of thousands of dollars that I owe. I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I have my A.A. and I also have a certificate from culinary school. But I earn about $4.98 an hour as a child care provider. How can I continue going to school, let alone pay for the schooling I’ve already received?

But I want my B.A.

I’m an educator. Everything I do as a family child care provider is designed to make sure all the children in my care go to college and get their B.A. I provide an academic environment for children from birth to kindergarten. I love what I do and the kids in my care end up being at the top of their class.

Want to apply to College for America like Tonia?

Click here and you could be enrolled as early as next month!

And every day, I still want my B.A.

I want to be an example for my own son. I want him to get his degree. I need him to see me complete my education. But with all my school loans, I didn’t know what to do.

Then earlier this year, my union announced a new benefit of membership: an affordable college degree from a respected, fully accredited college—College for America—for $2,500 per year or less! I applied and was accepted.

I was excited before I even heard all the specifics. I know that anything our union puts together is designed to make life better for its members. And I know that it’s our amazing strength in numbers that allows us to win benefits like these. After I looked into the College for America details, I learned that it fit my life plan.

Applying was easy!

As part of my application process, I saw a button to apply for a Pell Grant to pay for my tuition. I clicked on it, filled out the forms and BINGO!…100% tuition paid!

Even though I was accepted a couple weeks ago, I’m still so excited! I start April 6th. And I’m already starting to dream about what I want to do. I’ve worked hard to build our union for child care providers. Along the journey, I noticed how important our political action is to accomplishing our goals. I have lobbied legislators, met with the Governor’s staff and talked to voters about important legislation. I grew to understand how important it is to use our voice in the public arena. I plan on getting my B.A. in business from College for America and I want to take my passion for good public policy to my future career—perhaps working for a legislator who stands up for working families and who is committed to fixing California’s broken child care system!

Wish me luck, sisters and brothers!

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