UMass Global celebrates first graduate to earn degree via Auto Club of Southern California partnership

November 07, 2021

IRVINE, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2021) – University of Massachusetts Global, formerly Brandman University, today celebrated a special Southern California Commencement with graduates from the Class of 2021, as well as the Class of 2020. Today’s event was the first time since the days before the COVID-19 pandemic when members of the university community gathered to honor new graduates.

Saturday’s 800-plus participating graduates included Doreen Temple, the first UMass Global student to complete a degree via AAA Accelerate. AAA Accelerate is a partnership between Auto Club of Southern California and UMass Global enabling eligible Auto Club employees to augment their skillsets while receiving a university education as a workplace benefit.

Temple earned her degree while raising her young daughter. She participated in Saturday’s ceremony with her parents, daughter, boyfriend and others who are close to her in the audience.

“It’s being able to say, ‘I did it,’” Temple said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

AAA Accelerate launched in October 2019 to help people working for Auto Club of Southern California and its AAA-affiliated motor clubs serving 20 other states. After being accepted into AAA Accelerate, participants can enroll in UMass Global programs with the Auto Club making upfront tuition payments on their behalf.

“I’m tremendously proud of Doreen Temple,” said Chancellor Gary Brahm. “She summoned the courage to step forward and receive support from her employer through AAA Accelerate, which in turn helped her realize her dream of earning a college degree. Knowing that her parents and young daughter were on hand to celebrate this milestone, it was moving to see her cross the stage to receive her diploma. Ms. Temple and the entire Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 have truly earned our collective admiration."

The partnership provides pathways to degrees in multiple majors, including communications and media, legal studies, organizational leadership, and computing technology. AAA employees like Temple, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, can fast-track their educational journey toward an undergraduate degree by taking selected classes through AAA University, the Auto Club’s internal professional development and learning department.  These classes provide transferrable credit toward an earned degree from UMass Global. 

Temple lives in La Mirada and works as an auto claims service representative assigned to the Auto Club’s offices in Diamond Bar. Once she was approved for the program, the Auto Club paid all of Temple’s tuition costs upfront, so she did not need to wait for any personal tuition expenditures to be reimbursed. She also took each of her courses entirely online.

“For me, online was an extreme plus,” she said. “It was good to be able to be home and work on that with my daughter.”

UMass Global enrolls about 80 students through the AAA Accelerate tuition benefit program. Additional eligible employees are on track to join their number. The program helps AAA employees advance their career by earning an undergraduate degree in a variety of business-related areas. It further benefits AAA by ensuring employees have the skills necessary to address future business needs.

“The Auto Club has a long-standing tradition of supporting ongoing career development for employees,” said Auto Club Vice President and Chief People Officer Katrina Bradley. “We’re proud to support employee growth and development by offering tuition assistance, and we are equally proud to honor Doreen as the Club’s first UMass Global graduate. Our strategy of supporting employees’ desire for work/life balance while pursuing an undergraduate degree is, in part, reflected in Doreen’s success.”

Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions showed in its inaugural Education Index report, published in August, that many working Americans are interested in education after living through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bright Horizons survey found 45% of respondents realized "their education became even more important for their growth in the past year.”

Black and Latino respondents were more likely to express enthusiasm for renewing their educations. Results show 55% of Black respondents, as well 54% of Latino respondents, said their interest in additional education heightened over the past 12 months.

The Bright Horizons survey also found that 60% of respondents said employers should include higher education within workplace benefit packages. Additionally, 54% of respondents said educational benefits have become more valuable over the past year.

“AAA Accelerate is a great program, if you want to get your degree. It’s very flexible. People are trying to help you every step of the way,” Temple said. “The financial aid part of it is extremely beneficial.”

UMass Global hosted Southern California Commencement at FivePoint Amphitheatre, an outdoor venue. Participants adhered to several COVID-19 prevention measures, including mandatory vaccinations for faculty and staff, as well as social distancing and face covering requirements for all attendees.

Today’s event was not only the university’s first in-person celebration since the onset of the pandemic, but also the first to take place while the university flew its new UMass Global banner. Brandman University became UMass Global on Sept. 1, 2021, the day it formally left the Chapman University System to enter a new affiliation with University of Massachusetts. UMass and UMass Global entered the partnership to help working adults in all 50 states complete degrees.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been serving Southern California since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit from its legendary roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and traffic safety programs.  Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club’s Web site at

University of Massachusetts Global (formerly Brandman University) is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. An affiliate of the University of Massachusetts, UMass Global offers undergraduate, graduate, credential, and certificate programs designed to be relevant to more than 90 career paths. UMass Global serves nearly 23,000 students, about 16,000 of whom are enrolled in academic credit programs, at 25 physical campuses in California and Washington, as well as online. UMass Global offers fully online courses for students anywhere in the United States and for military personnel serving abroad. For additional information, visit the university’s website.


Media Contacts:

Terri M. Carbaugh, UMass Global Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs: [email protected]

Andrew Edwards, UMass Global Senior Multimedia News Writer: [email protected]

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