Member Stories

AFT School Bus Driver Using Free College to Strengthen Advocacy Skills

Outside of her job as a school bus driver, AFT member Sarah Cloud has long been an advocate for her husband and son, who both have a rare form of arthritis. She’s now enrolled in the Union Plus Free College Program and taking classes towards a Patient Navigator certificate to enhance her advocacy abilities.

“I drive a 40-foot yellow hotbox on wheels,” says Sarah Cloud, a full-time contract school bus driver in Hurricane, Utah. 

Cloud is a 20-year driving veteran. She loves kids and driving gives her the opportunity to interact with all kinds of students. She is a member of AFT Redrock 6032 and the Vice President of Transportation on the executive board.

“I work to increase our training and work on different aspects tied to challenges and needs drivers have,” Cloud says. 

Outside of her job, she tends to her husband and her son, both of whom have a rare form of arthritis. Cloud is a prominent ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and she has had to deftly navigate the medical establishment to ensure her family gets the care they need. It’s this latter role that ultimately attracted her to the Union Plus Free College Program. 

“I was skimming a Union Plus email newsletter,” recalls Cloud. “I’ve been one of many moms out in the workforce for whom college was out of reach. I saw this offer, and I wondered if I could even do it. I decided to take a class and see if I liked it.”

The Union Plus Free College Program partners with AFSCME and Eastern Gateway Community College to offer online courses and degree programs with no out-of-pocket cost to active or retired union members and their eligible family members, including spouses, domestic partners, children (including stepchildren and children-in-law), dependents and grandchildren.

Cloud is studying to receive a Patient Navigator certificate. 

“I’ve learned a lot about access issues,” she said. “Navigators improve disease outcomes. They help the individual and the public.” 

Cloud continues, “I recommend this program to all union members I meet. Your family can go to school, and it’s huge.” 

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