Nydia Long and Ashley Thao have a lot in common.
For one thing, they’re both vision center managers for Walmart. Nydia works at Store 780 in Monroe, Georgia. Ashley works just 20 minutes away at Store 5252 in Loganville, Georgia. Both are moms to three children. They are also friends.
And recently, both women managed to squeeze college into their busy lives. They graduated in spring 2022 with bachelor’s degrees paid for by the Live Better U program.
Nydia, who joined Walmart 17 years ago, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration from Purdue University. She also got her license to be an optician.
Ashley has been with Walmart for seven years, and she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts.
Back to School
When Nydia returned to school through Live Better U, her coursework was all remote. “I thought it was great,” she says. “You can schedule it early morning or late at night. It just depends on your schedule.”
Though Ashley started pursuing a nursing degree before joining Walmart, she ultimately decided the program was too expensive and put her studies on hold.
When she heard about Live Better U, she was already in a Walmart apprenticeship program that would help her get her optician’s license. Adding a business degree on top made sense for her, Ashley explains. “I thought it would really help me out with the business operation.”
Studying for her license and a degree at the same time—while also working—got a little hectic. “It was crazy! On top of that, I'm a wife and I'm a mother of three children. So it was a lot,” she admits.
Even so, she encourages others to take the plunge and pursue an education as well.
“It's a good risk,” Ashley says. “Take the time to do it, whether it's one class a semester or one class a quarter. You can get there, especially if Walmart is paying for the degree. It's a clear choice of ‘why not?’”
Nydia agrees, saying, “I think that it's just a good opportunity for anybody!”