For more than a century, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been recognized on March 8 globally as a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender parity. The Medtronic Women’s Network is rallying around this year’s theme to #EmbraceEquity, which is embodied at Medtronic year-round through programs like the one in this story.
Anaisa Rojas Brache first came to Medtronic as a manufacturing operator. She would look at the office in the corner and think, “Someday that will be me.” And thanks to the Medtronic Advanced Pathways & Skill Building (MAPS) program, she’s well on her way.
Medtronic launched MAPS to help remove barriers for Medtronic employees in the United States and Puerto Rico who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree as part of their career development.
This program offers 100% tuition paid by Medtronic for participating schools to eligible employees from day one. Notably, MAPS participants do not need to pay upfront for these educational costs, eliminating the need for reimbursement — just one more way Medtronic is working to remove barriers and ensure every employee has equitable access to the opportunities they seek.
Across industries, women comprise 48% of all entry-level hires, but they make up just 38% of first-level managers — a figure that continues to shrink at higher leadership levels, according to McKinsey. Medtronic recognizes that different people face different barriers on their journey, and for many, earning a degree leads to meaningful personal and professional growth.
Breaking down barriers
When Rojas Brache came to the United States from the Dominican Republic four years ago, she didn’t speak English. She didn’t need to – her life was back home where she had an accounting degree and a plan. And she was certain she would return someday.
But as time went on, things started to change. She was exceling at her job, picking up English, and starting to see a future – not only in the U.S., but at Medtronic.
She considered seeking tuition reimbursement to attend college, but she’d just had a child and felt the cost was too much.
“When I learned about MAPS, I thought, ‘This is my time,’” Brache said. “Medtronic is not just saving patients’ lives. It’s changing employees’ lives, too.”
She’s studying business administration – specifically management – at the University of Memphis.
And she’s applying her education to work in a new leadership role on the manufacturing line.
“I’m creating my life here,” she said. “I’ve got my son, my job, and I go to school. This is my home now. Everything I dashed from my mind, now I can achieve.”