A New Jersey member’s career grows thanks to the AFSCME Free College Benefit

The pandemic has led many of us to take stock of our lives and our goals. For AFSCME New Jersey member LaTrenda Ross, the pandemic ignited a long-held dream—starting her own life coaching business.

“I was thinking about revamping my whole entire life,” recalls Ross, a member of Local 2306. “I was looking out for things I want to do, things I haven’t been going after.”

For Ross, who works for Hudson County’s Office of Social Services, Housing and Community Reintegration, helping people achieve their goals has been the cornerstone of her 25-year career in social services.

Whether it’s her current job of getting the elderly or disabled adults the assistance they need, previous roles helping adolescents who were aging out of the family and child services system or working in mentorship programs, Ross has dedicated her career to helping others lead a fulfilling life.

But as she took the plunge toward starting her own company at the pandemic’s outset, she knew she needed additional expertise in the day-to-day running of a business. That led her to enroll in AFSCME’s Free College benefit, where she found a certification program in business management custom-made for new entrepreneurs like her.

Ross was able to transfer credits from previous higher education stints toward the certificate program, and she appreciated the fact that her program was flexible and held online. Most important, she loved that the program was free.

“I would do my reading during the week and do the classes on the weekends,” said Ross. “Every week there are two to three tests. It’s not easy. It’s hard and you have to keep up with it.”

But keep up she did. In fact, Ross was thrilled to discover that after two classes last spring (she has three more to go), she had earned a 4.0 and made the president’s list.

Through the free college program, Ross was able to experience one of the many benefits of the union difference.

“I’m so grateful that this opportunity is available to union members and our families. I wouldn’t be in school right now because I just don’t have the money for it,” Ross says.

Her hard work is paying off. Her life coaching business, “Trending Into a New Life,” a play on her name, LaTrenda, is up and running, and she’s using her training from the certification toward creating a strong website, beefing up her marketing efforts and more.

Now, there are even more ways for AFSCME members and their families to experience the union difference and participate in the Free College Benefit.

Franklin University, a non-profit university located in Columbus, Ohio, will also offer free bachelor’s degree completion options. Franklin is offering Bachelor of Science degrees in Management and Leadership, Criminal Justice and Social Science.

To learn more about this new option or the AFSCME Free College benefit, click here