FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Walgreens’ designated hitter, Thomas Mandrell, 23, works full-time stacking toilet paper, peanut butter and filling in wherever needed around the store. He makes $12.85 an hour, which is a monumental step up from the $7.75 he made working at Popeye’s.

                                                                                                                 Thomas Mandrell hopes to be a Spanish translator in the future.
Photo: Mary Kerr Winters.

Mandrell said it was a tough battle trying to get by on such a slim budget while working as a server at Popeye’s. Most of his money went towards rent, his car and savings. Walgreens offers its employees a well-rounded insurance policy and “after each evaluation, employees are offered a 20 percent raise, which is what is really cool about working here,” he said. 

“Working at Walgreens is a really good job. It is very stable and something I can always depend on,” Mandrell said. His prior experience working at Popeye’s gave him a wide skill set that Mandrell said he believes helped him get his current job and allowed him to move up in the company quickly. He also credits a family connection with helping him get the Walgreens job.

Mandrell moved to Fayetteville with his family when he was 13 years old. Other relatives remain in Arlington, Texas: “The white side of his family is still here and the Hispanic side is in Texas,” he said. The language barrier in his family is a struggle.  He is saving up money to move back to be a Spanish translator for his family so that they will be able to have more work opportunities and have better connections with family members. This language disconnect limits his family members from work opportunities, he said.

Mandrell is passionate about music and enjoys playing the guitar in his free time. He said he likes to spend his extra cash on meaningful tattoos and “hopes to have full sleeves on both arms one day.”

The tattoo on his left forearm is his “tree of life.” It symbolizes all of the things that motivate him, such as the musical notes, and express his values. 

While pleased with Walgreens’ benefits, Mandrell does not want to do this job forever. He is interested in a legal career back in Texas.