Celebrating Success: With a Plane Ticket

From left, The Meoli Companies owner and operator Michael Meoli, who presented McDonald’s employee Mary Cooper-White with a plane ticket, and McDonald’s General Manager Jalyn Guy.

At The Meoli Companies, we take immense pride in supporting the educational and professional aspirations of our employees. One such inspiring story is that of Mary Cooper-White, a dedicated McDonald’s employee and resident of Cambridge, who recently experienced a life-changing moment of joy and achievement.

A Surprise Gift and a Decade-Long Journey

Mary found herself shedding tears of joy when Michael Meoli, owner and operator of The Meoli Companies, presented her with round-trip airfare so she could walk with her graduating class at Colorado Technical University this July. This heartfelt gesture came just weeks after a special gathering to celebrate Mary’s ten-year educational journey that began when she was a junior in high school.

Archways to Opportunity: Opening Doors to Success

Mary’s story is a testament to the educational support available through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program. Reflecting on her journey, Mary shared, “Going to college never crossed my mind. I had started my career with McDonald’s and just wanted to keep moving up. However, I saw how education could open up so many more opportunities — opportunities with McDonald’s and even within The Meoli Companies. I figured, why not see what else I could achieve with a real education? Plus, McDonald’s not only encouraged me, they paid for it all.”

Mary’s journey with McDonald’s began in high school when she took her first job at the Cambridge McDonald’s, part of The Meoli Companies. Recognizing her potential, her manager mentored her, leading her to take on more responsibilities and advance to a transitional leader role. By 2018, Mary had become a certified manager, demonstrating her dedication and hard work.

In 2020, like many others, Mary faced the uncertainties brought by COVID-19. This period prompted her to reconsider her future, and at age 21, she set her sights on obtaining a college education. Inspired by the career progression of her general manager, who had also started young, Mary realized she could achieve her dreams too, especially with her business background.

Achieving Academic Success

Taking full advantage of McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program, Mary enrolled in online classes at Colorado Technical University, earning her associate degree in business administration in just two years while working full-time. “The process of getting financial aid was really easy,” she noted. “Plus, my McDonald’s community encouraged me through it all because many of them had also gone through it. If I needed help, they were there.”

Mary’s journey doesn’t end here. She is determined to pursue her bachelor’s degree, once again utilizing McDonald’s tuition support. She encourages others to see the vast opportunities McDonald’s offers, stating, “Never count yourself out.”

The Impact of Archways to Opportunity

Mary is one of over 65,000 restaurant employees who have received college tuition assistance through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity. Beyond college support, the program has helped over 8,300 graduates with its English Under the Arches program, supported more than 1,700 people in graduating from career online high school programs and awarded over $185 million in high school and college assistance.

Michael Meoli expressed his pride in being part of Mary’s journey, saying, “It is an honor for The Meoli Companies to be such an influential resource for ambitious employees like Mary. Without Mary and all our employees, there would be no Meoli Family McDonald’s. By supporting the education and career growth of our employees, we engage in an incredible cycle of serving our community that goes far beyond the food we serve at our restaurants. We become part of people’s lives and contribute to a strong economy. This, in turn, allows us to give back even more to people like Mary, her family, and others who work and live in our community.”

At The Meoli Companies, we are committed to fostering a supportive and growth-oriented environment, empowering our employees to achieve their dreams and make a positive impact on their communities. Mary’s story is a shining example of what is possible when dedication, hard work, and educational support come together.

Read more at Dorchester Star.