College had always been a goal for Charletta Thomas.
Thomas didn’t doubt she was smart enough. Her barriers were external — tuition and time. She’d married not long after graduating from high school in 1981, had three children soon after that, and then gone to work for McDonald’s to make ends meet after her marriage ended.
She had what it takes to rise. Thomas, now 58, started as a bookkeeper and now supervises training for a 44-restaurant chain in southern Louisiana. But after 27 years with a company with education benefits — benefits Thomas pitches to other employees — she still hadn’t taken advantage of them herself.