Learning at Work Academy Program is a recipe for success for two Campus Dining colleagues

Sabinna Andrews and Joy Wood did not start their positions in Campus Dining at the same time or at the same place. But if you spend even a minute with them, you would guess they have known each other forever. While both now work at Chick-fil-A in the Duncan Student Center, the two first met in the English as a New Language (ENL) program and quickly formed a friendship based on their desire to work hard, learn the language of their adopted country and advance their careers at Notre Dame. This is truly a recipe for success. 

ENL is just one of the programs offered through the Learning at Work Academy from the Office of Human Resources. The program, which also includes High School Equivalency (HSE) and the Ivy Tech Associate Degree, is designed to encourage personal and career development to enhance individual achievement while strengthening the talent base for the University and the larger community. Instruction is provided through partnerships with the South Bend Community School Corp. and Ivy Tech Community College. Classes are conveniently held on Notre Dame’s campus and are open to full- and part-time staff upon hire. Most importantly, they are fully funded by the University, and employees are paid for a portion of the time spent in class. The Learning at Work Academy programs provided just the type of opportunities Andrews and Wood hoped for. 

Referred by a friend who also worked on campus, Andrews, a native of Colombia, started in the South Dining Hall in a temporary position in 2016. She then moved into a part-time role and is now full-time. Wood’s path was similar. Originally from Venezuela, she applied for employment in 2018 based on a suggestion her father received from someone he met at church who just happened to work in Human Resources. She also worked her way up from temporary staff to a full-time position in the Duncan retail outlets.

Following success in their job performance and growth after ENL, the new friends set their sights on tackling High School Equivalency (HSE). Both had graduated high school in their home countries, but their diplomas were not recognized in the U.S. 

“We said, let’s do this!” they recalled, sharing in unison. 

Wood graduated from the HSE Program in 2019 and Andrews the following year. The pair said that the programs are not easy, especially for non-native English speakers. 

“What would take someone 20 minutes would take us two hours,” Wood said. 

“The teachers were very helpful and super supportive along the way,” Andrews added. 

Each felt prepared for the next step, so it was no surprise that the duo decided to take on an even bigger goal: college, via the Ivy Tech Learning at Work program. The two say there was never a question they would be doing it together.

In spring of 2021, Andrews and Wood became college students. They plan to graduate next year and join more than 150 staff who, since 2009, have used the program to pursue their dream and graduate with an associate degree in applied science in business administration.  

Andrews and Wood say they are thankful they have been able to participate in professional development programs. From flexible work schedules to supportive managers, they share an appreciation for the support they are receiving from the University, knowing the value of these programs and the importance of what a college degree will mean for their futures. 

There are intangible benefits, as well: expanded knowledge, confidence and lasting friendships. They consider this an investment in themselves and hope others are inspired by their story. 

“Is there anywhere else that provides us these opportunities?” Wood asked. 

Andrews smiled and added, “How could we not do it?”

To learn more about the Ivy Tech Learning at Work program, attend an information session from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, in the lower-level training room in Grace Hall. 

RSVP using this Google form: Ivy Tech Information Session Sign-Up Form.

Representatives from Ivy Tech Community College and the Office of Human Resources will be on hand to explain the details of the program and answer questions. Questions can also be sent to askHR@nd.edu.

More information can be found on the Knowledge Hub: Business Administration through Ivy Tech Community College.

Originally published by Susan Hurley, Office of Human Resources at ndworks.nd.edu on March 13, 2023.