Opportunity

Writing a Wish List, and Stumbling Upon a Career

Eleven years ago, Jean Mullins didn’t have just one job, or two jobs – she worked as many as four at a time. From babysitting to mowing yards, cleaning houses and painting, she did anything she could to support her children. For fun, she’d take them to Walmart, where they’d make wish lists of the things they wanted, and after spending so much time there, she decided to apply for a job.

She got that job, and today, it’s her only one. A career may not have been on Jean’s wish list, but it’s what she quickly built. Watch how she says filling out that application changed her life for the better.

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Opportunity

2 Dreams, 2 Degrees, and 1 Unconventional Path

Like most moms, Lisa Moore has always bent over backward to put her son Joseph “Joey” Moore in a position to make his dreams come true. But there was one such dream that weighed especially heavy on her.

“I’ll never forget the day Joey came to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,’” Lisa said. “He was only 11 years old when he told me, but his mind was made up. I wanted to help make it happen but, as a single mother, I honestly didn't know where the money was going to come from.”

When Joey neared the end of high school, Lisa’s manager at the Walmart store in Mooresville, N.C. where she worked turned her onto the Associate and Dependent Scholarship Programs offered by the Walmart Foundation. Not only could associates like Lisa apply for scholarship assistance, but so could their high school senior dependents.

That was 2007.  Joey applied for and received a scholarship, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And he’s used his chemistry degree to springboard into a successful career with Henkel Corporation.

But that isn't where the story ends with the Moore family.

“It wasn’t long before Joey started telling me I could do the same thing – that it's never too late to go to college,” said Lisa, 52. “A light came on inside me.”

Already a pastor at Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Statesville, N.C., Lisa recently decided to apply to the Associate Scholarship Program to help finance her enrollment at Hood Theological Seminary School. She, like her son, was awarded a scholarship and is on track to graduate in 2018 with her Masters of Divinity degree. At that point, she plans to focus her efforts full time on the church, pursuing her dream of becoming an elder and possibly even a chaplain.

And she has quite the cheering section behind her.

“There are so many people lifting me up and cheering me on,” Lisa said. That’s why I’ve been with Walmart for 16 years. My job at Walmart has helped put a roof over my head and raise my son, and now it has [helped to support] both of our college educations.

“When I enrolled in seminary, Walmart allowed me to cut back some of my hours to concentrate on school,” she said. “Walmart has always been flexible with my schedule, no matter what was happening in my life and I’m so thankful for that. I’m the biggest cheerleader for this company, not just because of the scholarship program, but because of how it has looked out for me and my family.”

For more than three decades, the Walmart Foundation has made resources available to help U.S. associates and their high school senior dependents fulfill their educational goals through scholarships. More information is available here. 

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Opportunity

Seeing Through my Blindness to a Future at Walmart

That’s a line from one of my poems – I’ve been writing inspirational poetry most of my life. I’ve tried to live by the truth in those words ever since I was a young child who loved to ride bikes and had dreams of growing up to be a football player.

When I was five years old, I was confronted with a very real and dangerous enemy – a brain tumor that was pressing on my optic nerve. Doctors successfully removed the tumor – likely saving my life – however, when I woke it was to a world of blindness.

That tumor might have gotten to my sight but it didn’t get my spirit, and it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming. I still get to ride bikes – I live out in the country where I can ride freely – and I shifted from a dream of football to the reality of playing baseball.

Beep baseball, that is.

In beep baseball we use a ball that beeps so you know where to swing and where to track to catch. The game also has beeping bases so you know where to run and throw. I play outfield, and I’m pretty good, and so is my team, the Tyler Tigers. In fact, we’ve traveled to places like Georgia and Minnesota for the beep baseball championships.

Today I’m working on a new dream – to grow in my career at Walmart. About 18 months ago I started in a training program with Goodwill that helped me develop key retail skills. The training included an on-the-job assignment in the produce department at my local Walmart store in Tyler, Texas.

After proving myself in the Goodwill program, I got an interview with Walmart, and they hired me on as a permanent associate – I celebrated my one-year anniversary in February – and now I work in the dairy department. I used Braille labels on signs when I first started at Walmart so I’d know where everything was supposed to go; however, I’ve learned my department so well I don’t even need the Braille signage anymore. If a customer asks me where to find the butter or milk, I can take her right to it.

I like working for Walmart – they saw how hard I worked while in the Goodwill program and they worked with me to find a place where I could fit. The thing I like most is working around other people and helping my fellow associates get acclimated to working with a person with a disability. The next step for me is to work with department managers and other leaders in my store to determine what I need to learn in order to pursue growth opportunities with Walmart.

I tell everybody that I look at each day as a challenge. I’m ready to take that challenge head on because I want more for myself and those who come behind me – I want to leave a legacy that other people with disabilities can follow.

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Opportunity

Fluent in Determination, I Mastered Both English and a Career

Thirteen years ago, I wanted to work, but I was afraid to fill out a job application. If I got a call for an interview, I’d risk exposing a major hurdle: I didn’t speak English.

At the encouragement of my husband, I applied anyway at our local Walmart store in Miami. And to my surprise, it all worked out, because what I was able to communicate – determination – pulled me through.

Growing up in Mongolia gave me plenty of experience being the manager of my household, as I shopped and cared for my younger sister and brother while my parents worked nearly 24 hours a day. But I wanted something more for myself and them, so I started a retail store in my home country to help out. A few years in, I met my husband, an American who was in Mongolia teaching English. We married and moved to the United States, where different social norms gave me the inspiration to run with a new dream: having a career that allows me to be independent and also provide enough for my children.

Starting at Walmart at entry level, I set a goal for myself to be promoted every two years. And that has actually happened. More than a decade later, I have worked my way up to the position of store manager, leading a Supercenter in Haines City, Florida.

How did I do it? Aside from personal grit, I made my first steps forward with Walmart's training program for new hires. Next, I talked to as many people as I could – having regular conversations with other associates helped me learn English pretty quickly. Later, having the support of mentors – like my market manager who saw that I had high expectations for myself – kept me moving further and further.

In the back of my mind, the stark separation of roles between women and men in Mongolia did impact my self-esteem a little bit. Even though my hard work was paying off at my job, I still feared things like public speaking, thinking others would make fun of my accent. But last year, I participated in another Walmart training program called Champions for Development, where we covered women and confidence. I sat in the back, quiet, as every woman in my group got up and spoke about themselves.  I thought to myself, if they can do it, why not me? And I made a personal commitment to no longer be afraid.

In March, that pledge became very real as I addressed a full auditorium at Walmart’s corporate office for International Women’s Day. My message was my story, which was this: If I can accomplish all of this in 13 years without knowing English at the start, then anyone can do it.

The language I knew all along, perseverance, has paid off, and now I’m speaking and teaching it confidently to nearly 380 associates in my home store.    

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Opportunity

Meet Bruce, the Big Cheese in Boise

Mention Idaho and most people think of potatoes, but the state also produces a massive amount of milk. In fact, it’s No. 4 in the U.S. for milk production and No. 3 for cheese. No wonder Bruce Payne takes so much pride in his job as dairy manager at the Walmart supercenter on Overland Road in Boise.

Bruce started working in the dairy department 10 years ago. He moved to grocery for a while, but when the store needed a new dairy manager, he stepped up. That was eight years ago, and he’s loved it ever since. All of the milk his store sells is local, and Bruce makes sure his displays feature locally made cheese. His pride shows not only in the products, but also in the way Bruce’s team works together to make their section of the store the best it can be.

“This job is what you make of it. My manager started as a cart pusher, and all of our assistant managers started on the ground floor. If you stay focused … and look around to see what you can do to grow, you can make something of it,” Bruce said. “We’re here 40 hours a week, so I figure we may as well enjoy what we’re doing and make a positive impact. We’re a family – a team.”

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