UNCG and Amazon Partnership Gives Students Financial Freedom

Posted on December 18, 2023

UNCG student Atheena Panama Tofaeono stands in front of the UNCG clock tower

UNC Greensboro and Amazon’s partnership is still going strong – continuing to offer college tuition benefits to the company’s employees and helping them achieve their educational dreams without financial burden.

In 2022, UNCG became the first institution in the Piedmont Triad to partner with Amazon for the Career Choice program. Launched in 2012, Amazon’s Career Choice program is an education benefit that empowers Amazon employees to learn new skills for career success at Amazon or elsewhere. Amazon provides a variety of educational and upskilling opportunities, including full college tuition, industry certifications designed to lead to in-demand jobs, and foundational skills such as English language proficiency, high school diplomas, and GEDs.


“The program has been a great relief because it’s allowed me to go back to school,” says Tonia Mitchell, who graduated in December 2023 with her bachelor of science degree in professional studies.

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Mitchell had been working to earn her bachelor’s degree for more than thirty years, so when Amazon announced the partnership with UNCG, she jumped at the opportunity.

“My educational experience has been on again, off again with raising kids and taking care of family members,” says Mitchell, who has worked with Amazon for seven years. “So, when I saw there was an opportunity for me to go back to school, I felt that it was ideal for me.”

The bachelor of science in professional studies online program offers courses focused on building existing knowledge in your field as you develop skills that can be applied to any role. The program works to develop depth in your area of interest to see and think from different perspectives. Mitchell says the speed of the program is exactly what she needed.

“I thought it would be overwhelming at first, but all of my courses were seven weeks, so it was a fast-track program to finish, instead of having so many gaps in between where I was taking breaks ,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell hopes to now use her hard-earned degree as a life coach or  go into therapy work.

“I realized there is a great need for people to have someone to help out or talk to when things get tough,” she says. “I’m grateful for Amazon and their Career Choice program for helping me make this happen.”


Atheena Panama Tofaeono is a third-year student studying human development and family studies. The Amazon Career Choice program helped her return to school after a break.

Atheena Panama Tofaeono came to UNCG as a first-year college student but decided to take a break mid-way through her second year. During that time, she found a job as a warehouse associate with Amazon, and the Amazon Career Choice program helped her get back into the classroom.

“The program helped lighten the load of tuition significantly,” says Panama Tofaeono

Panama Tofaeono left Amazon in August 2023, but her benefits rolled into the fall semester. Now a third-year student, she’s studying human development and family studies (HDFS) in the School of Health and Human Sciences, with the goal of becoming a behavioral analyst.

“I always wanted to work with kids but, more specifically, children with autism,” she says. “A behavior analyst tracks a child’s progression with certain milestones in life, like social skills.”

It was UNCG’s specific programs like HDFS that attracted her to the University.

“I started as a biology major, but I found it too broad for what I was trying to pursue,” she says. “That’s why I changed to human development and family studies which has really helped with my career ambitions.”


Alicia (Lay) Roberts is also using the Amazon Career Choice program to restart her academic journey and earn an accounting degree. She studied at two separate universities before coming to UNCG, but found neither of them allowed her to fully explore her academic goals.

“I always wanted to do accounting, but when I started at my first school, I was a psychology major and an accounting minor,” she says. “Then I moved to North Carolina and had a scholarship at another university, but they did not have accounting, so I switched to business there.”

Now, Roberts is jumping back into her education – a big change for her after coming from two smaller schools.

“I’ve seen enough to know that I can’t wait to explore more at UNCG,” she says. “I’m trying to get to know people and get my feet wet. I’m really trying to focus on getting back into the school aspect of things.”

But one thing she’s not having to worry about as much is the financial aspect of school, thanks to Amazon.

“It’s the first time that I haven’t had to pay anything out of pocket for school, so it’s a big help. I love it.”

Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Additional images courtesy of stock.adobe.com

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