There’s a certain sense of pride that comes from graduating – whether it’s from high school or college, it’s a familiar experience for many.
You can see that very same pride in Walmart Academy graduates as they walk across a stage and are recognized for their dedication. They’ve not only set aside time to learn the best ways to serve their customers – they’ve taken advantage of an opportunity that can help set them on a clear path.
Ayreann Luedders, a senior director with the Walmart Academy program, gets to see the graduates’ transformation first hand. “When my team gets to the locations to help set up for graduation, at first the associates don’t know what to expect,” Ayreann said. “By the end they realize, ‘oh, this is a big deal,’ and you can see it on their faces. They are just so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
To celebrate these achievements, each Academy location’s inaugural graduating class designs a pin that’s given to each graduating class thereafter. They commemorate everything from specific events to individual stores and their communities to pieces of Walmart’s past.
Here’s a look at a few of these pins and the stories behind them.
This Academy graduation’s theme was all about Walmart history, from serving MoonPies (Sam Walton’s favorite volume producing item) to the regional manager dancing in a hula skirt like Sam once did on Wall Street. This pin shows the Walton’s 5 & 10 as a symbol of where we started, and the words “Pathway to the Future” to show where their training will take them.
St. Petersburg, Florida
With this store just steps from the beach, this pin features the Florida shoreline and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This group’s graduation ceremony even included a massive sandcastle at the front of their store.
You might find a rocket scientist at this store – it’s less than 10 miles from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. To show off their unique location, they decided to use a space shuttle orbiting the Earth within the shape of Texas.
The elements on this pin showcase the history of their community. The triangle shape refers to Tracy’s location inside the three interstates that border the city, and the bear is a nod to their state flag. The train represents their more than century-long history as a major railway hub.
What makes this pin special is that it comes from the 100th Academy Walmart opened. To commemorate that milestone, CEO Doug McMillon came to speak, making it even more special for the graduates.
Using a simple backdrop of Virginia’s state flower, this pin represents a store that is anything but ordinary. It serves a diverse community, and over 80 native languages are spoken by our associates there.
“It was through the graduation ceremonies that I had this epiphany moment that we’re changing lives in what we’re doing through Walmart Academy,” said Tina Kurtz, a director with the Walmart Academy program. “It gave them an entirely new perspective on their jobs – understanding how doing things a certain way helps. It’s meaningful, life-changing work.”