There’s a saying: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish. The important thing, however, is to start.”

That’s what Diane Shelly did in 2012. As a young Community Business Director at Atria, she decided to continue her education and enroll in graduate school.

At the time, she had a six-month-old child, a new job, and little idea of the feasibility or time commitment necessary to achieve an advanced degree.

With the help of Atria’s tuition reimbursement program, Diane made it through eight years of studying, one course at a time. She received a master’s degree in human resources from St. Joseph’s College on Long Island in 2020.

“My entire degree only personally cost me $800, so my $30,000 graduate degree was essentially free,” Shelly says. “Within six months of obtaining my master’s, I was promoted to Executive Director at Atria Bay Shore. So, it was pretty awesome.”

Human resources has always been Shelly’s passion, and matching her enthusiasm with strong academic credentials has long been a goal. “It’s something I really wanted to accomplish,” she says. “I’ve never been a traditional student or on a traditional trajectory. I received my bachelor’s degree when I first began working at Atria. I just knew I wanted to keep going. It gave me something to work toward.”

You’re worth it!

Paige Burkey, Atria’s Director of Benefits, says stories like Diane’s are exactly what the company wants to see in its workforce.

“Diane is a great example of our commitment to employee development and showing what we value. So often, the talent we need is already in our workforce. We’re committed to empowering our employees and helping them reach their full potential. Our tuition reimbursement shows that Atria cares about retaining and growing our employees,” she says.

Diane’s advice: Take your time!

Shelly shared some advice to those considering applying for tuition reimbursement to advance their careers:

“You don’t have to get your degree at anyone else’s pace except your own. If you look at the whole process, it can become overwhelming. But if you start slowly – one class at a time – eventually you’ll get there. You can continue to gain work experience through the process that will prepare you for the next step in life.

“This is a great program for anyone that wants to invest in themselves and create opportunities. It’s a company that will give you all the tools you need to get to where you want to go. You just have to take ownership.”