Sonya Borden Earns Her Degree Through Partnership with Pizza Hut

When Sonya Borden’s daughter graduated from college, Borden thought it was time she pursued her own college education. Borden, of Hudson, New Hampshire, is a restaurant manager for GC Pizza Hut, a franchise organization of Pizza Hut LLC. She has been with the restaurant company for 28 years, since she started as a hostess when she was 16 years old. She took advantage of Pizza Hut’s partnership with Excelsior College to earn her Associate in Applied Science in Business in 2018.

Secret to Success:
Sticking to a schedule
Biggest Help:
Next Plans:
Pursue a dual BS/MS degree

With Pizza Hut’s Life Unboxed EDU program and the company’s partnership with Excelsior, she didn’t have any excuse not to earn a degree. Through the partnership, Borden was eligible for reduced tuition and fees, which saved her money and made earning a degree more feasible. Excelsior also awards credit for certain workplace training, so Borden came in with just under 70 hours of workplace training.

The option to study independently and earn credit by exam as well as receiving credit for workplace training were the main reasons she chose to attend Excelsior. “The online and at your own pace, the price … the fact that I was getting credit for my work experience through Pizza Hut and the training that they did, that was a big factor,” says Borden of the aspects that led her to choose Excelsior. “It really just made me decide that it was something I wanted to do.”

Borden faced some challenges when she first started the program. She had been out of school for a long time and had difficulty understanding the online format. She had help from her daughter, who was used to online learning environments, and spoke with her classmates and asked them for advice. She says, “Just having a good support system around you … it’s not easy, it’s difficult, but reach out to the resources that are offered to you; talk to an advisor, talk to some of your peers; use the things that are given to you to make it happen.”

“I was getting credit for my work experience through Pizza Hut and the training that they did.” –Sonya Borden

Time management was also difficult to master, but eventually, Borden learned to stick to a schedule. She developed a routine of fitting in assignments and studying after work and on weekends. She set up parameters to prevent distractions. She says when she retired to her basement to take a test or study, no one was allowed to bother her. She was determined to complete her degree so she could say she graduated college. She had instilled in her daughter the importance of education, so she wanted to also better herself by earning a degree.

Achieving her degree was an import milestone, one Borden encourages her coworkers to reach. She tries to inspire her younger coworkers to enroll in school and follow in her footsteps. She tells them about Excelsior’s programs and encourages them to sign up for the Life Unboxed EDU program. She thinks if they see she has successfully earned a degree, they will think they can too.

Borden is the first of her parents and siblings to earn a degree, and she says she feels accomplished to have earned it. Her original plan had been to attend college after high school, but life happened, and she thought she would never achieve that goal. Now she is happy her grandchildren can say their grandmother graduated from college. She says, “I want it to be natural, I want them to just think, you know, that’s what you do, you continue your education; that’s what you need to do.”  – J.K.