For her entire adult life, CSEA member Guaren Long has wanted to go back to school to get the college education she felt was missing from her life. When she got an email from the Union Plus Free College Program, she enrolled immediately and hasn’t looked back. With just five classes left, Long has been very happy with her experience and credits the program’s flexibility and course offerings.
Guaren Long of Phelan, California has been a member of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Chapter 278 for the last four years. She has wanted to go back to school herself for the last 25 years to get the “rounded college education” she felt she missed.
As an instructional associate at an elementary school, Long helps kids that struggle with reading.
She says, “I have a passion for understanding people and how they function and encouraging them.”
When Long saw an email from Union Plus about its Free College program, she said, “at first it looked too good to be true.”
She decided to start taking classes towards a general studies associate degree immediately.
“I thought, ‘okay I have time, and it won’t cost me anything, how do I not step through this door?’” Long reasoned.
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, financial dependents and grandchildren.
Long scales her course load up and down each semester depending on her schedule.
“Taking classes online is definitely convenient,” she says. “Within the timeframe from deadline to deadline I have amazing flexibility.”
She also loves “the personal satisfaction and growth” she gets from the program.
“The flexibility affords me the chance to face some of these fears that I’ve had or learn things that I’ve wanted to learn for a long time,” Long says.
With only five classes left to go, Long says she would recommend the Union Plus Free College Program to others “in a heartbeat.”
To learn more about the Union Plus Free College Program, visit unionplusfreecollege.org.
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