Seven years after moving to Arizona, Tony Cimino returned to his home state to take a job with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).

“I wanted to come work for a company that was going to invest in me,” he said.

Prior to the move, Cimino started classes at Bellevue University for his master’s degree. While job hunting, he learned about BCBSNE’s tuition reimbursement opportunities.

“From a recruitment standpoint, it was a big selling point for me to come here,” Cimino said. “It’s really great that Blue Cross is helping employees not only further their careers, but better themselves overall.”

Cimino joined the company as a senior investigator in the special investigations unit. A few months after he started, BCBSNE launched the Bellevue University Learning Advantage program (BULA).

BULA provides tuition reimbursement opportunities to eligible part-time and full-time employees. Program highlights include direct payments and tuition reimbursement opportunities for employees’ immediate family members.

Cimino completed classes through the program.

“It was really easy to get enrolled and work with HR and my manager,” he said. “Everyone was really supportive.”

Though BULA helped eliminate the financial stress of going back to school, Cimino still faced the challenges of balancing his career, homework and a growing family.

“It was difficult; I’m not going to lie,” Cimino said. “There were long days, but I knew going back to school would help me advance my career. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.”

Cimino graduated with a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in health care administration. He credits his classes with providing insight into how a company makes decisions “to become leaner and more efficient” and stay competitive in the marketplace.

Additionally, the program created a special moment for Cimino and his wife Krystyn.

“Krystyn went to Bellevue for her undergrad and completed her master’s degree through them while we were in Arizona,” Cimino said. “She wasn’t able to walk at graduation since we were still living out of state.”

So, during Cimino’s ceremony, Bellevue gave the couple permission to walk and receive their diplomas together.

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