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Md. McDonald's employee receives high school diploma through the company

The 21-year-old came to the country from El Salvador six years ago with the mission to work and make money. (Photo, ABC7)

It’s a graduation ceremony for one.

From the same place where she serves up hamburgers and hot fries, Yenis Blanco walked down the aisle at the Addison Road McDonald’s in Capitol Heights to receive her high school diploma.

“It was hard,” she said as she choked back tears.

The 21-year-old came to the country from El Salvador six years ago with the mission to work and make money.

She worked her way up to manager, but education has always been a priority.

“Now I am more comfortable speaking English and I got my high school diploma,” said Blanco.

Blanco becomes the first DC-area employee to finish the company’s Archways to Opportunity program.

Full and part-time employees with McDonald’s for nine months can earn a diploma at no cost and get tuition assistance for college.

“If they stay with McDonald’s, that’s great for us. But if they move on and become great citizens and great employees in other fields that’s great too,” said Ron Gantt, the store owner.

Yenis Blanco has served up enough signature Big Macs and the Chief of Police of the Capitol Heights Police Department thinks she is a big deal, so she got an offer.

“I’d be happy to have her come into our police department and be an intern at our police department,” said Chief Anthony Ayers.

So her days behind the counter may be numbered since Blanco wants to become a police officer.

“She started a program that sometimes takes 18 months to complete, she did it in seven. So that shows she has determination. That’s the kind of people you want as to be law enforcement officers,” said Chief Ayers.

“Now I know my goals, my dreams are possible,” said Blanco.

As for tuition assistance, full-time employees are eligible to receive $1,050 per year and the part-time employees can earn up to $700 per year. Blanco says she is interested in going to college.

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