Unlocking Potential: Tuition-Free Education Offers Union Pacific Employees Flexibility and Growth

EAP Grads Main Graphic | O

Thanks to Union Pacific’s Educational Assistance Program, Mechanical Service Operator Michael Falbo was able to earn his bachelor’s degree online while working full-time at the railroad’s Proviso Shop near Chicago. In December, he graduated with honors.

For many employees, balancing a full-time job and pursuing a college degree can seem overwhelming. Through a partnership with the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), Union Pacific’s Educational Assistance Program makes pursuing higher education a tangible and achievable objective.

The tuition-free program provides Union Pacific employees the opportunity to further their skills and knowledge through online or in-person courses at UNO and other institutions. The program – a benefit that starts on day one of employment – has seen a ninefold increase in enrollment since it began in 2020. To date, nearly 500 employees across the railroad’s 23-state system have become UNO students.

In 2023, 46 Union Pacific employees graduated from UNO.

Michael Falbo, mechanical service operator, leveraged Union Pacific’s partnership with UNO to pursue a degree he’s passionate about: accounting.

“Earning a bachelor’s degree opens up the possibility of new roles at Union Pacific,” Falbo said. “I’ll be able to increase my earning potential in roles I’m excited about.”

Online classes were a perfect fit for this Chicago-area resident.

“I was surprised to discover I was afforded many of the same opportunities and access to instructors as Omaha-area students,” Falbo said. “I joined the accounting honors society, Beta Alpha Psi, and attended meetings remotely.”

EAP Grads Stubbs | M

The program’s flexible options allowed Scipio Stubbs, locomotive engineer, to complete his degree online while living and working in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Scipio Stubbs, locomotive engineer, earned his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies last fall after completing online courses through UNO.

“Attaining my undergraduate degree was always a personal goal,” said the Arkansas resident, who entered the program with 60 credit hours from previous universities. “I never envisioned it being fulfilled at UNO.”

Stubbs recommends employees thoroughly research programs that align with their career goals to maximize the program’s benefits. For craft professionals considering enrollment, Stubbs emphasized effective time management skills, which he said are “crucial in maintaining a harmonious schedule.”

“I'm truly grateful to Union Pacific for providing me with this unexpected opportunity,” he said.

EAP Grads Jessica Howell | M

Jessica Howell, manager-Accounting, Finance, received her MBA from UNO in December.

Jessica Howell, manager-Accounting, had previously started an MBA and jumped at the chance to finish her degree after learning about Union Pacific’s partnership with UNO. She described the program’s accelerated enrollment process as “very smooth.”

“Within my department, we rotate positions often, so the ability to work hard and learn new things is imperative,” Howell said.

UNO’s array of nationally accredited degree programs assures professional development and lifelong learning. Following her Fall 2023 graduation, Howell is already considering enrolling in additional classes.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your area of expertise or something completely different,” Howell said. “It’s not always easy to dedicate free time to school, but it is rewarding.”

In 2022, as a direct result of employee feedback, Union Pacific expanded the program to include an online associate degree from Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College.

Union Pacific and UNO Educational Assistance Program

Searching for a tuition-free education?

Union Pacific’s Educational Assistance Program provides employees with the opportunity to further their skills and knowledge in partnership with the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and other higher education institutions.

Full-time employees choosing to study through the UNO program (including the MCC associate degree option) are offered a variety of advantages, including company-paid registration fees and accelerated admission, as well as the choose-your-pace opportunity to take singular courses for professional development or to earn a degree.

Interested in a new career where you can grow with a tuition-free education? Learn more about railroading careers at UP.jobs.

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