ASU/Starbucks partnership: this ASU grad likes it a latte


Mark Reed

Aristotle Jefferson Aquinde always dreamed of being the first one in his family to earn a college degree, but had serious doubts about his goal. Then he started to work for Starbucks.  He enrolled in the ASU/Starbucks partnership program entitled “The Starbucks College Achievement Plan,” took fully-funded online classes for two years through ASU Online, and just graduated with his B.S. in Public Service and Public Policy. His dream has been realized.

“Cost was always a limiting factor,” said Aristotle, “but I was able to graduate debt-free because of this great program.” Aristotle started working at Starbucks in 2015 near his home in San Jose, CA and took 2-3 classes each semester. “I loved the online classes,” he said. “I was able to successfully balance school, work, and my social life easily. Well, sometimes it wasn’t easy, but it was manageable.”

According to ASU President Michael Crow, “ASU is pioneering a new university model focused on inclusivity and degree completion, and Starbucks is establishing a new precedent for the responsibility and role of a public company that leads through the lens of humanity and supports its partners’ life goals with access to education. We are very pleased to collaborate with Starbucks, who has impressed us with its strong commitment to its employees by providing this unique opportunity for a first-class college education. ASU has the vision, programs, and scale to deliver it to Starbucks employees in every part of the country.”

Aristotle chose the Public Service and Public Policy bachelor’s degree program after enjoying two public policy classes. “They really interested me,” said Aristotle. “So I took more policy classes, and then did an internship with a state political campaign. I could really see myself doing more of this in the future, I was very excited to change my major to Public Service and Public Policy. I want to give back to my community.”

Aristotle continued, talking about the graduation ceremony. “During convocation Mr. Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, used the word “Ubuntu,” an African word meaning ‘I am because of you.’ Ubuntu stems from the African phrase ‘Ubuntu ngumtu ngabanye abantu’ or ‘A person is a person through other people.’ This phrase exemplifies what Starbucks does for its partners (employees) and it’s what I would like to do working in the public sector.”

We have no doubt you will, Aristotle. 


Aristotle Jefferson Aquinde presents ASU President Michael Crow with one of the signed Starbucks College Achievement Plan stoles to show his appreciation for a college education. Two Starbucks stoles were signed by dozens of other College Achievement Plan scholars and gifted to both Crow and Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz.

Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now