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Wildcats in the Amazon: WSU announces new career program

An Amozon delivery driver carrying a package near an Amazon Prime delivery van.

In early July, Weber State University announced that it has been selected to become an education partner in the Amazon Career Choice program.

The program, which includes hundreds of schools throughout 14 countries, is meant to help the success of students and Amazon employees through education and opportunities. The program includes three tracks: foundations, pathways and college.

“The Amazon Career Choice Program is operated through Amazon and provides educational benefits to many of the employees there,” Jessica Oyler, WSU vice president for Student Access & Success, said. “We are now their partner, so employees can use that benefit to attend Weber State.”

With a new Amazon warehouse less than 10 miles from campus in Marriott-Slaterville, the program will help WSU students get jobs within the company, move through the ranks in the company and help current employees of the company further their education.

WSU prides itself on being a place for everyone. According to the university’s website, over 50% of WSU students are considered non-traditional, as of 2010. Because WSU is a place with such a wide array of students with different lifestyles and career paths, the program will help to bring even more students to the university who would not be able to attend otherwise.

“We were interested in pursuing a partnership with Amazon because they have expanded locations across Utah, so we wanted to ensure employees would have access to the educational opportunities at Weber State,” Oyler said. “There were also a few different Amazon employees who inquired at Amazon, and to us here at Weber, to ask if we could join the program so they could use their benefits here.”

There are currently 22 Amazon facilities in Utah, with three facilities between North Ogden and Layton. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Amazon also employs between 6000 and 9000 employees within the state. Because the company is so large and employs so many people, WSU joined the program to help these employees further their education and help them grow in their careers.

For those who qualify for the program, Amazon pre-pays tuition to the school and covers the cost of textbooks for their employees. Qualifiers can participate in a wide range of majors and minors and can earn a variety of degrees through the program including certificates, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“To be a part of the program, individuals would have to be an employee of Amazon,” Oyler said. “If they are an employee of Amazon, they can talk to their supervisor and verify their eligibility through their Amazon portal.”

In addition to this, those eligible for the program need to apply to WSU, fill out FAFSA and scholarship forms, complete orientation, submit any test scores, meet with an academic advisor and submit their payment request through Amazon. WSU encourages anyone who thinks they may be eligible to verify their eligibility and use it to their advantage.

“Amazon employees will attend Weber State just like any other student and will apply, register for classes, meet with their advisors and have opportunities to get involved on campus,” Oyler said. “The difference is that they will also verify their eligibility through Amazon and will make a payment request through Amazon to utilize their benefit. Amazon will then pay up to $5,250 a year for their tuition.”

With the average cost for an in-state full-time student at WSU being $5,421 for the year for the 2022-23 school year, excluding fees, books and boarding, the Amazon Career Choice program cuts the cost of attendance down almost entirely. With the addition of possible scholarships due to GPA, extracurriculars, etc., the Amazon Career Choice program could mean some students who go to school full-time may have their entire education program covered at WSU.

Because of WSU’s flexible schedule and access to resources, the program works well for those students who may be working full-time at Amazon and need to take courses outside of “normal” hours. Students who take their courses fully online are still eligible for the program and the benefits, though they may not actually be on WSU’s campus.

Many other employers including Walmart, Apple, Target and Wells Fargo, offer similar programs to the Amazon Career Choice program, though some programs are more selective than others. WSU encourages these companies and students who know about these programs and who are eligible to let them know so that they can join to help their students succeed in a university setting and earn a degree.

“We are continuously looking for additional programs to partner with to ensure that Weber State students can use the educational benefits provided by their employer,” Oyler said.

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Brisa Odenthal
Brisa Odenthal, News editor

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