The American Dream: With Determination, Anything is Possible

Feb 06, 2023

“I wanted to further my career, make more valuable connections and pursue necessary professional skills, as well as foster personal development,” says Maria Lourdes Rocheleau, a driver in the MP&L (Material Handling & Logistics) Department at Chicago Assembly Plant. “I was on C Crew when I started graduate school. I really enjoyed classes and my classmates of different nationalities. I was so happy about this accomplishment because it was a great opportunity and greatly increased my career options.” 

Rocheleau found an opportunity to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree at Purdue University while working full-time at Ford. She was able to utilize the UAW-Ford Employee Tuition Assistance Program (ETAP) to help make this happen.

Rocheleau found an opportunity to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree at Purdue University while working full-time at Ford. Click to Enlarge

The comprehensive tuition program, offered through the UAW-Ford Joint Trust, is available to hourly employees and their families and designed to assist in both career advancement and personal development. Options vary depending on employment status. 

“Don’t wait,” says Rocheleau. “Make use of the Education Tuition Assistance Program to further your education. I’m so thankful Ford Motor Company and the UAW have given us the opportunity for personal development.” 

Rocheleau shows that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.  She has worked at CAP for 10 years, but her journey started over 3,600 miles from Chicago. 

Rocheleau grew up in Trujillo, a small town on the Pacific coast of Peru. Trujillo, known for having weather that is “forever spring”, is the native land and ruins of the Mochica, Chimu and Inca Indians. The importance of education was instilled in her at an early age. She was the youngest of five siblings, and her parents wanted their children to make education a priority so that they could have an easier and more prosperous life in contrast to the life they led.  

Taking their advice to heart, Rocheleau attended The University of Trujillo, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Rocheleau came to the U.S in 2005 after she married her husband, Ronald.  At the time, they lived in Ohio, where he worked at Monroe Stamping Plant until it closed. Their next move was a transfer to Chicago Assembly Plant in 2007, and Rocheleau started working for the plant in 2012.  

Ronald, who works in skilled trades at CAP, always wanted to work for Ford Motor Company.  He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  

 “My great-grandfather, Albert Anderson, was one of the early apprentices at the inception of the apprenticeship program and was a toolmaker at the Rouge Complex during World War II and beyond,” Ronald shared. “As a journeyman millwright at Ford, I am happy for the continuing opportunities as a fourth generation Ford employee and the American dream we have attained working at CAP.”  

Rocheleau also earned Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  She shared, “Since my undergraduate degree is in industrial engineering, I decided to get my Black Belt to improve performance of the company’s supply chains by systematically removing waste and reducing variation.” As she looks forward to her next steps, she sees a bright future. Some of her interests include engineering, ergonomics, and safety. “I believe the knowledge and experience, along with my degree, can continue to be an asset here at CAP.” 

The tuition assistance program can cover up to $6,000 a year in tuition and fees toward a certification or degree, plus scholarships for eligible dependents pursuing an undergraduate degree. Between 2019 – 2021, more than 2,000 UAW-Ford employees used the tuition assistance program each year, with UAW-Ford providing over $3 million in assistance each year on average. For more information, visit