Tuition reimbursements for the University of Arizona Global Campus
As the economy and job landscape evolve with the times, required job skills, new technologies, and changing social climates are also shifting. Blue Shield is committed to providing opportunities for our people’s growth and development based on their unique capabilities, interests, and goals. We believe that every role at Blue Shield offers an opportunity for career growth and development.
One way that Blue of California is supporting the growth of our people is by offering robust benefits such as tuition reimbursement at the University of Arizona Global Campus for bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
To date, there are 215 people from Blue Shield of California enrolled in the University of Arizona Global Campus. 142 are working on their bachelor’s degrees, while 73 are working on their master’s degrees.
272 people from Blue Shield of California have graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus to date.
To gain some further insight into how this benefits package has impacted some of our people in their professional and personal lives, nine graduates share their stories about attending the University of Arizona Global Campus while working at Blue Shield.
Antoine is an experienced business analyst of System Support who has been with Blue Shield for 22 years. He recently graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Master of Arts in Strategic Human Resources Management.
“When you first start in a company, your trajectory is pretty fast, depending on how you manage your career. I started as a temp in customer service, worked my way to team lead trainer, and then I became a supervisor. That’s pretty much where (my position) sat for the majority of my career, but it was because I love people. Leading people. Leading is one of my passions, and so I didn’t mind that I was a supervisor for almost 20 years.”
Antoine’s role as a business analyst is fairly new to his career, and he and says, “I absolutely love it.” His future goal is to transition into Talent Acquisition with his new degree.
“I was absolutely floored when I saw the news about full coverage for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. I was like, ‘No way, hold on, I’m deleting this e-mail. It’s just spam. I’m not getting in trouble for clicking on anything. “
The first time Antoine heard the news of tuition reimbursement at the University of Arizona Global Campus. He thought it was a phishing email. A week or two later, he saw a blog about the Blue Shield benefit and realized the opportunity was real.
What was your biggest takeaway from attending the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“Take every challenge as it comes. Don’t — don’t — doubt yourself. It’s a natural thing for people to doubt their abilities. But if you do, find ways to overcome it. And I was able to do that. So, my takeaway is, any challenge, no matter how big or small, I’ll be able to tackle it if I set my mind to it.”
Antoine says that his biggest barrier to going back to school was “myself.”
”My biggest barrier was just self-doubt.” And once he was able to overcome that, “the rest was easy. The rest just fell in place. Work-life balance, school balance, the rest of that just fell into place.”
Antoine attributes his ability to establish work-life-school balance to his high school sweetheart, who is also his wife. “My wife kept reassuring me that I wasn’t alone, so she helped me come up with a study schedule and a classwork schedule.”
Antoine says that the support he felt from his wife, “was part of what I feel made us closer. It brought us closer together because of that shared experience.”
“There were a few times when I thought ‘I probably should not have done this.’ But as you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it just gives you that spark to keep going. It’s like, ‘you made it this far,’ or when you get that first grade on a paper after you haven’t written a paper in so many years and it’s an A. I graduated with a 4.0, so, holy cow, I want to go back. I want to do another course.”
Are you planning on going back and taking any other courses?
“I’m thinking about it. They offer a Master’s in Education, so I’ve been reading over that program, and I may just sign up, because I’m thinking long-term.“
Jaime Rae Gurevich, LVN
Jaime graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Healthcare Administration. She has been at Blue Shield for nearly eight years. When she was first hired, she was a utilization review nurse. She has since been promoted to clinical program manager of Health Solutions.
“I’m really passionate about making change in how healthcare is delivered. More specifically, to minority populations, because that’s where a lot of my clinical work before coming to Blue Shield was.”
What prompted you to first enroll in University of Arizona Global Campus?
“I’ve always wanted to pursue further education…” Jaime says, and that she “made a commitment to myself that when I had a child, I would have it done before they started grade school, because I wanted to set that example. And then when I became pregnant, it kind of was like, ‘oh, this is a reality now. I really have to do this. I really have to fulfill this goal that I’ve set forth.’ And so that’s what really pushed me to really focus and get done… to be a role model to him.” Jaime says, in reference to her son being her inspiration to get her bachelor’s degree.
What did you like most about attending the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“I mean, obviously whenever you engage in education there are going to be some challenges. But when you think of the regular brick and mortar type of institutions, there’s always requirements to be on site, to take time off work, or feeling like you necessarily can relate to you peers. I compare this to my mom. She was a divorced mom of four and found herself in a position where she needed to further her education when I was a child. She relayed a story of just how hard it was for her to attend school at night, because she didn’t feel like anybody understood all the demands of her life. And there’s this expectation to perform on the level of people that were significantly younger than her, and that always stuck with me. I had this dream that immediately when I got out of high school I would go to college and get my degree, because I was going to do something different. But then, I kind of found myself on a similar path… The fact that it’s kind of a norm of a means to obtain a degree makes it a more meaningful experience. There are people that understand, and people that relate to me, and I also think it brings in a lot of diverse perspectives.”
Jaime is currently working on her second degree at the University of Arizona Global Campus, a Master of Arts in Public Health, with an anticipated graduation date of 2024.
Bhargav works as an information, security, risk & governance specialist, principal. He has been with Blue Shield for eight years. He first started here in software engineering, before moving to security early this year. He graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Master’s in Information Systems Management.
“I’m forever grateful to Blue Shield for sponsoring me, and the way I’m giving back is through my work as a security principle on a day-to-day basis. My commitment is being committed long-term to this company.”
Has the University of Arizona Global Campus helped further your career at Blue Shield?
“I feel so, yes,” say Bhargav. “You know, I moved to the security principal role, which is a high position in security, and I’m sure that my master’s helped in that. Although, I did get a very top-level certification in security called the ‘CSP’ as well. I’m sure the master’s program especially helped, because I have a chemical engineering degree.”
Bhargav says that he’d “wanted to do a Master’s in IT some time ago.” Which was postponed due to life and family demands, but “I finally caught up to it.”
What did you like most about attending the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“Ah, that’s a good question. I would say that the curriculum was definitely the latest and greatest. The Master’s in Information Systems Management Program was such a great blend of technology, finance, and management concepts… the coursework was awesome. I think it’s a perfect blend, well-rounded for technology leadership.”
Bhargav continues that, “It was nice to be a part of a diverse classroom of people from all walks of all types of industries.”
“It was inspiring to see a lot of working mothers.”
He also says of his experience at the University of Arizona Global Campus, that talking with “people from diverse backgrounds and educational credentials and experiences is just enriching.”
Bhargav received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Madras in 2002, and completed an additional two years of coursework at the University of Oklahoma in Petroleum Engineering. He chose to focus on Information Technology in 2005.
When speaking of the benefit of tuition reimbursements for Blue Shield employees at the University of Arizona Global Campus, Bhargav says that, “It’s definitely one of the best opportunities in this industry at this time, especially with inflation and everything. The company sponsoring the entire program is a blessing.”
Krista graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Master of Arts in Healthcare Administration. She is a lead specialist at the Pharmacy Prioritization Call Center, and has been with Blue Shield for four years.
“I feel like the knowledge I gained from the degree overall has helped my current role. It wasn’t required for my current role, but I’m just understanding how healthcare organizations work in general and applying that, not only to what we do at Blue Shield, but our counterparts; the providers, offices and hospitals, and the different avenues of health care. I think it has really helped open my eyes to the other side of things. I know in the future it will definitely help with any requirements for future jobs, so I have it in my back pocket ready to go for my next role.”
Do you feel that Blue Shield has supported you in your career and in your growth and development?
“Yeah. So, this is my third position at Blue Shield,” Krista states. “I started in the Medicare Stars Adherence team and was in that role for about four months before I moved over to the Prioritization Call Center team. I was a technician that would take the doctors and pharmacist calls, helping with prior authorizations and troubleshooting claims, overrides, whatnot. I just got into this role last year.”
Krista continues that, “Blue Shield has been super supportive of my growth. There are people that have been here longer that haven’t moved into that many roles for whatever reason, but if you want to grow, they’ve definitely been supportive of that.”
Would you have pursued your degree if Blue Shield hadn’t offered tuition reimbursements through the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“No, not anytime in the near future. I wasn’t even looking at it. Just because I knew it was financially unattainable. And I have worked for other companies… they would do a tuition reimbursement, but it was only a certain percentage that you got back. You had to pay full, out of pocket to begin with, then submit your grades, and then they would reimburse whatever percentage the program allowed. So, just having to pay up front was a major deterrent for me with any program. Also, most grants and scholarships are for undergrad, they’re not for a master's. There would have been no way.”
Krista speaks of her future education goals and says that she heard Blue Shield is offering a 25% reimbursement for a Ph.D. “Granted, it would take a lot longer, but it’s something I haven’t totally ruled out.”
Alejandro is an advanced appeals and grievances representative. He has worked at Blue Shield for ten years, and graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration.
“If you’re even considering attending the University of Arizona Global Campus, at least try a course. Sign up, and at least you know Blue Shield covers your portion of it. And then with the grants and different things that the University of Arizona Global Campus sets up, it’s not like we’re paying anything out of pocket. Try one course and see how it’s set up and you’ll quickly see that ‘hey, this isn’t as hard as it seems.’ It’s not overwhelming.”
Were there any barriers to your education before enrolling in the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“Yeah, finances. Some of the schools are pretty expensive. Yes, you can get loans, but then you have large debt. I didn’t want to have that. You know, everybody I know that has degrees has extremely large student debt. So, I didn’t want to end up like that.”
Did graduating from the University of Arizona Global Campus have a positive impact on your family?
“It has,” recalls Alejandro. “It actually had a really big impact on my family because I’m the first in my family to obtain a bachelor’s degree… There have been others before me that at least attempted to go to school, but never finished. I don’t even think anyone got an associate’s degree in my family. My father, he dropped out of high school because that was the time of Vietnam. And of course, once you get out of the military, you go to work. And my mom dropped out of school to start a family with him. So, my parents didn’t graduate high school.”
After commenting on how proud of him they must be, Alejandro replies, “Yes, they were, and I’m glad, because I’m a little older now. I mean, there were 20 years between when I finished my two years at junior college and going to the university… So, I’m just glad that they were still here on Earth to be able to see me do it. With COVID… you see a lot of people’s lives cut short. So, I was glad I was able to complete it while they’re still here with us.”
Alejandro says that he hasn’t sought out changing his position at Blue Shield yet, because he wants to do a master’s program at the University of Arizona Global Campus — most likely in business administration. His goal is to stay with Blue Shield and move into management once he completes his master’s degree.
Alejandro’s daughter is now enrolled in college and hopes to become and Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).
Kayla is a senior coordinator for appeals and grievances. She’s been with Blue Shield for seven and a half years and graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a second Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management. She originally earned her first bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts while she was living in Nigeria.
“Having an employer who will reimburse your schooling 100% is a blessing. At this point, Blue Shield is not even asking you, after you graduate, to work for x amount of years before you can go anywhere. This is why my advice is to jump at it. Learn what you need to learn. Give what you need to give, and also utilize the resources and benefits that are available to you.”
What advice would you give to employees who are considering enrolling in the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“Just do it. That’s it. Do it, because whether you begin or not, time will never stand still. So please, make the years count as they go by. Accomplish something today by beginning.”
Were you able to directly apply what you learned at the University of Arizona Global Campus to your role at Blue Shield?
“Well, yes…” says Kayla, “It gave me a broader perspective of how things work. One of the things I learned, which was very big for me, was the SWOT analysis and applying that to my daily life and job now.”
She says of her experience with the University of Arizona Global Campus, that what she liked most was “the remote learning… it’s convenient for me, and I can take my school with me wherever I go. I went on vacation, I can’t tell you how many times, and I had my laptop. I was looking at my backpack the other day, and my computer, and I started counting the countries they’ve gone with me. They’ve gone with me almost everywhere.”
Kayla was originally in customer service before transitioning into appeals in 2017, where she has been since. Her goal is to use her degree to transition into Human Resources, but she is also open to becoming a Business Analyst.
Adam is a human resources information systems senior analyst for People & Engagement Technology who has been with Blue Shield for four years. He graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA).
“The University of Arizona Global Campus has provided me with a greater ability to think outside of the box, with a full-picture scope of the healthcare industry and our country as a whole.”
How has getting your MBA changed you?
Adam says, he’s seen it change his ability “to advance higher, in relation to a certain skill set of thinking. I know that sounds weird, but when you sit with others at a table and you can contribute more, you feel more valued and you feel like you can push yourself and contribute, like, it’s my duty to contribute at this point. That’s the way I feel.”
Do you have any advice for prospective candidates who are thinking of working at Blue Shield?
“Ask yourself why you come to work every day, and then look at the organization’s mission and what you’re trying to apply for — see if what the company strives to be, and what they do, aligns with your core values. That may actually give you a little bit more of a reason to get up in the morning and do what you need to do and… be extremely happy.” He continues that, “Blue Shield is not afraid to just let people try new stuff. And you know, it’s not a company that says, ‘Hey, stay in your lane,’ you know, they say, ‘Okay, wait, you’re trying to switch lanes? Tell me why.’”
He also says that his leaders “are fantastic… I love just being able to be honest and open with my leaders. “
Adam reports that over the course of three and a half years, he’s had three or four promotions and that, “there’s exponential growth in this company if you seek it out.”
When speaking of his decision to enroll in the University of Arizona Global Campus, Adam states, “I signed a contract which said that my MBA was going to be a little over $33,000. Now, if you break that cost down over the course of 18 months to two years, it’s anywhere from $1500-1800 a month extra in my pocket, because technically I’m not having to pay it. So, when I looked at it that way, it’s like putting a little bit of extra time and effort in to truly… get paid.”
Adam says of his experience at the University of Arizona Global Campus that, “the beauty is in the journey, not the destination. Because now I have a new problem. What do I do with all the time I used to have taken up with school?”
Rina is a manager of enrollment and retention for Medicare Duals. She graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with a Master of Arts in Health Administration. She’s been with Blue Shield Promise for six and a half years, after starting with Care1st Health Plan, which then became Promise Blue Shield.
“If you just stay steady and just do the work, eventually you’re going to get there. And then before you know it… you’re done. So, it’s never too late to get started.”
What brought you to your first role with Blue Shield?
“I was a Peace Corps volunteer doing health and education, so that’s what got me into health care, and then from a personal perspective, just an advocate for access. I had a family member pass away because they had so many barriers to access. They didn’t even know how to access health care, and by the time that they did, it was too late and there was nothing they could do for that person.”
This led Rina to work in healthcare outreach. She was working for a program in Los Angeles County that worked closely with about five healthcare plans before an opportunity with Care1st Health Plan arose. "I was a little hesitant, but excited at the same time because I’ve been doing outreach, and this was going to be more program and policy management implementation. So that was a little scary, but exciting at the same time. So, I decided to go for it and that’s how I came to Care1st, then here.”
What are your plans for the future of your career moving forward?
“I’m going to stay with the team that I’m with and then just pursue any chance that I can with the team to gain as much knowledge as I can to be a better leader.”
Rina says of her decision to enroll in the University of Arizona Global Campus that, “My manager was really, really supportive, my team was really supportive, my family was really supportive, so then I was like, ‘you should just go and do it. Because, if you never start, you’re never gonna finish, so just get on and do it,’ and I did, and it was great. Because honestly, I think that there were a lot of things that I had learned on the job, but taking some of the classes really solidified that knowledge and gave it more of a framework and how to phrase what we’re doing, so that was really helpful.”
Rina goes on to say, “I think what graduating from the University of Arizona Global Campus did was allow me to apply what I’ve learned really early on, and it made me a better people leader for my team.” It motivated her sister to go back to school and obtain her master’s degree as well.
Kyra is a senior benefits analyst with the Benefits team at Blue Shield. She graduated from the University of Arizona Global Campus with her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). She has been at Blue Shield for three and a half years. She first came to Blue Shield as an human resources specialist with the HR:Connect team. She then found that the calls that excited her most and made her feel most engaged and effective were always the benefits calls, so she moved to the benefits team.
“We’re always capable of growing, we’re always capable of learning, we’re always capable of doing something new or stepping outside of our comfort zones — stretching ourselves a bit further. I think just remembering that, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been working for three years or 30 years, there are always opportunities out there to continue to push your own development.”
What prompted you to enroll in the University of Arizona Global Campus?
“I remember the day I graduated from my undergraduate degree telling my mom that I wanted to get my graduate degree one day, and it’s just never been feasible from a cost standpoint or even just a quality-of-life standpoint. So, the fact that I work for an organization that provided me with the opportunity to get a master’s degree and mark a decade’s long goal off my list, at no expense to me, while also being able to work full-time — that’s phenomenal. That to me is just unbelievable.”
Do you think that by having the flexibility of attending classes fully online, you were able to have a healthy work-life balance?
“I should probably preface that I don’t believe in work-life balance. So that’s a tricky question for me. I believe in harmony. So, what I mean by that, when I think of the word ‘balance,’ I think of walking across a tightrope and one tiny mistake and you’re going to fall off that thing. What I kind of believe in is the idea of life harmony, and sometimes it’s kind of like an orchestra. The saxophones are going to be louder sometimes, the trombone is going to be louder. Sometimes the flutes are going to take the lead, and you have to be able to let things flow and let certain things take the lead. So, I think the flexibility of UAGC provides the opportunity for anybody who wants to further their education to do so. Does that mean it was easy every day? Absolutely not. I mean, I remember days thinking, ‘how am I going to get all of this work done?’, and then I’m exhausted, and I have to go to school, I have to go study, I have to get this paper done. So, it’s not easy. I don’t want to provide this idea to students that like, ‘oh yeah, it’s just like rainbows and puppies.’ That would be a falsehood. I think it provides the flexibility for people to accomplish their goals if they are willing to make some sacrifices. There were days we couldn’t hang out with friends. There were days that I didn’t go to bed ‘til 1:00 AM… But it provides the flexibility to figure out how you’re going to do that for yourself.”
Kyra also says, “I think Blue Shield is probably the first company that I’ve worked for where the mission really aligns with the actions of the company. And to have senior leadership teams that are as accessible as they are, to know that you’re working for a mission-driven company that genuinely cares about its employees. It might be a conflict of interest for me to say, but I think we have an amazing benefits package. I think we do a lot of things to really take care of our employees, from the basic benefits you would expect like medical, dental, vision and 401K, all the way up to just the thoughtful programs that we have in terms of tuition assistance, corporate tuition grants, and health days off... I love this organization. I think it’s an amazing culture. I feel proud to work for an organization that believes in its mission and truly has a North Star.”
Due to the online format of the University of Arizona Global Campus, the reimbursements from Blue Shield and other grants and programs the University of Arizona Global Campus provides, many graduates are finding that their barriers to education have been eliminated. Many attest to their experience at the University of Arizona Global Campus as being beneficial in their immediate jobs, as well as in their growth and development in the company as they seek it.
We’re anticipating 80 more Blue Shield employees to graduate by the end of 2023. Currently, the top 10 most popular degrees overall at the University of Arizona Global Campus, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, are:
- Health Care Administration
- Business Administration
- Business Leadership
- Organizational Management
- Health Information Management
- Health and Human Services
- Project Management
- Public Health