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McDonald's Employee Named 'Adult Learner of the Year' by American Council on Education

Sep 29, 2005

Shelly Hicks of Columbus, Ohio, was named the 2005 Adult Learner of the Year by the College Credit Recommendation Service of the American Council on Education (ACE).

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The Adult Learner of the Year Award is presented annually by ACE's College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) to an adult learner who used ACE college credit recommendations to earn a college degree or advance a career. Recipients must also demonstrate outstanding achievements in their community or workplace while successfully balancing the demands of family, career, and education.

"More than 40 percent of today's college students balance the competing demands of work and family while pursuing their educational goals as adult learners," said Susan Porter Robinson, ACE vice president and director of the Center for Lifelong Learning. "Shelly Hicks balanced work and family demands to earn a bachelor's degree using credits earned in her employer's training program and courses completed at an accredited university. She is a superb example of the opportunities available to many adults interested in furthering their education at our nation's colleges and universities."

ACE reviews employer education programs nationwide and makes recommendations for colleges and universities to award up to three college credits for each course. Hicks, the single parent of an adopted son, completed courses at McDonald's Hamburger University (the company's worldwide corporate training center) and University of Phoenix, to earn a bachelor's degree in business management in May 2004.

Her McDonald's career started in 1986 as a manager trainee in a franchised restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. She realized quickly that her decision to join the restaurant chain was a good choice. The company's on-the-job training program enabled her to move up the ranks of management.

"I quickly learned that McDonald's was a great company to work for," she said. "They provided professional training classes to improve my leadership and business skills. These comprehensive training classes turned out to be much different than the learning in high school. Not only was this fun, but McDonald's seemed to understand the adult learner and I found myself loving the newfound knowledge."

Hicks spent 13 years working for McDonald's in Nashville. During this time, she also took in a foster child. At the same time, Hicks was completing courses at Hamburger University that excited her to learn.

"The difference in learning was in the ability to apply the knowledge," said Hicks. "I became proficient at taking the principles taught in class and applying it to my everyday work and then teaching the concepts to others. This time around, the learning seemed to stick."

In 1999, she joined McDonald's, spending one year as a restaurant manager. Then she was promoted to business consultant, providing support to local franchisees. To further her career, Hicks began to consider going to college and earning a degree in business.

"During my search for a university, I learned that the classes I attended at McDonald's were approved for credit through ACE," she said. "ACE laid the foundation for my future by transforming the classes I completed with McDonald's into college credits."

In 2002, she started her current job as a training consultant in Ohio. She facilitates part of a management curriculum which helps prepare managers to assume full accountability for their business.

Hicks earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in May 2004 from University of Phoenix and is currently enrolled in a master's of education program in adult education at Penn State.

"I want to share my enthusiasm for learning with others and inspire them to be lifelong learners," Hicks said. "Thank you to McDonald's and ACE for providing me with the opportunity that only once seemed beyond my wildest imagination: to obtain a college degree and to become a lifelong learner."

Nominations were reviewed by a three-person judging panel: Anne Carlisle, regional dean, Golden Gate University and ACE California Affiliate Director; Sylvia Galloway Crowder, director of private sector programs, FIPSE, U.S. Department of Education, and ACE National Coordinator; and Nathan Greeno, Ph.D., president of Drawing Board Consulting Group and ACE CREDIT Advisory Board Chair.

Sponsoring the 2005 Adult Learner of the Year Award program are: Allied Business Schools Inc.; Certified Medical Representatives Institute Inc.; College Board; Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc.; Delta Air Lines; Graduate School, USDA; Learning Tree International; and Walt Disney World Resort.

American Council on Education

ACE's College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) pioneered the evaluation of education and training attained outside the college and university degree programs. For more than 30 years, CREDIT has evaluated and made college credit recommendations for nearly 36,000 courses offered by hundreds of organizations. CREDIT uses college and university faculty to evaluate courses offered by business and industry, labor unions, associations, and government agencies and recommends college credit as appropriate.

More than half a million adult learners are currently enrolled in the ACE Transcript Service, with hundreds of thousands of additional learners using these credit recommendations directly through partnerships between their organizations and colleges and universities. CREDIT serves as a vital link connecting adult learners and organizations such as McDonald's Corporation and higher education institutions such as University of Phoenix.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. For more information about ACE, visit .

McDonald's USA

McDonald's USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States, serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to millions of customers every day. More than 80 percent of McDonald's 13,700 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local franchisees. For more information about McDonald's, visit .

University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix, which has served working adults for nearly 30 years, has made its mission to remove barriers to education for busy adults by providing accessible scheduling and rigorous degree programs centered on professional goals. The University is the largest private accredited university in North America and is owned by parent company Apollo Group, Inc. As of May 31, 2005, 295,500 students attend Apollo Group, Inc., institutions. Of those, 154,500 students attend through Apollo's Online campuses. The University's focus on small interactive classes, highly personalized teaching and comprehensive academic accountability systems has won praise and recognition by noteworthy academic and business leaders. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit .

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SOURCE: American Council on Education

CONTACT: Paul F. Hassen of American Council on Education,
+1-202-939-9367, William Whitman of McDonald's USA, +1-630-623-6745, or Nancy
Newton of University of Phoenix, +1-602-417-0684

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