Mike Meoli and Quontisha Chisholm at Nemours, where Chisholm is a clinical medical assistant.

From McDonald’s to medicine: a path of opportunity 

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Health

Mike Meoli and Quontisha Chisholm at Nemours, where Chisholm is a clinical medical assistant.

Mike Meoli and Quontisha Chisholm at Nemours, where Chisholm is a clinical medical assistant.

Thanks to an opportunity program that helps people earn their high school diploma, Quontisha Chisholm went from working at a McDonald’s in Millsboro to a medical assistant at one of the largest integrated pediatric health systems in the country.

“My journey wasn’t an easy one, but everything that I went through was worth it,” Chisholm said. “I’m just excited to see where it takes me next, and without getting my high school diploma through the McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity, and without Nemours offering me a job – I got my foot in and I don’t know where I would have been, but it’s been a life changer for me and my children.”

Chisholm  gave birth to her first child at 15 so she left high school to provide for him, and while she experienced many hardships growing up and was raised by family members, this fueled her passion for finding a stable job to provide for her child. 

She moved in and out of jobs until she found McDonald’s in Millsboro in 2009. 

After transitioning to a job at Perdue farms for a few years, the physical work took its toll.

During her time at Perdue, she learned how to supervise and train other employees, so when she went looking for a new job, she went back to McDonald’s, this time in Milford, and got into management. 

One thing was still absent though: her high school diploma. 

“It opened up a lot of job opportunities having a high school diploma, because you can’t even really be a janitor without them requesting you to have a high school diploma,” she said. 

She kept hearing about McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity which offered a chance to obtain a high school diploma for free, so she took the chance. 

With her new diploma, she switched her careers and went into the daycare field just two months later. 

“When I got my high school diploma, I didn’t know where that was going to take me,” she said.

The McDonald’s program was established in April 2015 and offers help and training for employees to improve English skills, earn a high school diploma, work toward a college degree, get help making an education and career plan with advisors and more.

More than 82,500 restaurant employees in the U.S. have enrolled in a program. 

The Meoli Companies is a local franchise organization which owns and operates 25 McDonald’s restaurants across the Delmarva Peninsula.

It recently made a contribution to Nemours, and on the way out of the building after taking a tour, Chisholm ran into Mike Meoli, president and owner of Meoli Companies. 

She told him: “If it wasn’t for you and the McDonald’s high school diploma program, I wouldn’t be here right now.” 

Meoli said this interaction was heartwarming. 

“By all accounts, she seems very happy, very affirmed in what she’s doing,” he said, “and I’m proud to have supported that in some way.”

The McDonald’s Corporation and individual operator split the cost 50/50 for an employee to enroll in the Archways to Opportunity program. 

Of the 1,500 employees across all his restaurants, Meoli said 28 are in the program.

After two years of work, Chisholm earned her diploma. The curriculum includes general coursework in various subjects.

“It’s virtual but you have a coach that checks in, provides feedback and keeps you updated on coursework,” she said. “You can’t slack because they checked on you all the time.”

The time of the diploma program varies and is determined by how many credits one already received on their high school transcript. 

McDonald’s also provides a career pathway, so Chisholm earned her CDA, which is a Child Care Development Associate Certification. 

“I went to work at a daycare for early education, and I was doing it and I love children, but I always wanted to be in the medical field,” she said.

She enjoyed her work in daycare, but still wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, so Quontisha used grant money from Delaware Technical Community College and enrolled in a medical assistance program. 

Her application was accepted and she was on her way to becoming a medical assistant. 

She completed the four-month program, passed the national exam and received two certifications – medical and administrative, making her a Clinically Certified Medical Administrative Assistant.

Quontisha applied for a job at Nemours in May 2021 and started working there in 2022.

Anna Gripp, the public relations coordinator at Nemour’s said Chisholm’s story is really amazing, and it’s always great to see people working at Nemours and truly enjoying what they’re doing. 

“People come to McDonald’s because it’s an easy job to get, but McDonald’s offers so much more than just flipping a burger and messing with fries,” Chisholm said, “but you get customer service skills, you learn a lot of different aspects in the career while you’re there, and they follow you, because when you come into the medical field, you need that customer service, you need to be able to work with different people from different backgrounds.”

Audiology services

The meeting between Chisholm and Meoli was a result of a recent gift of $50,000 to help facilitate the installation of a second state-of-the-art audiology booth at Nemours Children’s Health, Milford providing crucial auditory services to children in need. 

This donation is part of the Meoli Companies’ philanthropic initiatives to support children’s health and well-being in the community.

“In addition to helping improve patient access, this expansion to the Milford practice demonstrates Nemours Children’s Health commitment to providing our community with the best and most accessible care.,” said Yell Inverso, director of audiology at Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware Valley. “Since the second booth recently opened, the average wait time for a family to receive a hearing evaluation decreased by over 68% and the audiology team at Nemours Children’s Health, Milford was able to serve 40% more children and families in January 2024 alone, compared to the same time frame in 2023.”

To distinguish between the two booths, the second booth has a blue door, a coincidental alignment with The Meoli Companies’ blue branding but one that provides a welcoming entry for children and families getting the care they need. 

The audiology excellence of Nemours Children’s Health holds special meaning for the Meoli family, whose daughter, Lauren, received care from the team when she was a toddler. 

At the time the family only had one option, which meant taking a substantial drive to Wilmington for Lauren to receive the best audiology services they knew Nemours offered.

“Our family experienced the challenges of caring for a child with audiology needs firsthand, and many southern Delaware families have an even steeper challenge getting the time and spending the resources necessary to drive hours for care,” Meoli said.

Now, he said, those families have a much more convenient audiology solution in their own backyard. 

“We are appreciative of the opportunity to support Nemours in this way and, in doing so, continue to expand The Meoli Companies’ ability to embrace our neighbors in ways that make a true difference in the lives and communities in which our teams live and work,” he said.

Share this Post