Laurel O'Neal became the first person in the Augusta area to receive Chick-fil-A's S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award.
The $1,000 scholarship award, named for the founder of the Chick-fil-A chain, is only available to 25 students nationwide who were previously awarded the $1,000 Chick-fil-A Leadership Award, which O'Neal received in the fall.
"She is really going to go far," said Suzanne Martin, owner and operator of the Evans Kroger location and O'Neal's nominator for the first scholarship. "The customers love her and she is really a great kid. She is unbelievable."
Martin presented the check and plaque to a humble and slightly embarrassed O'Neal at a ceremony Thursday at the restaurant.
O'Neal has worked up to 20 hours a week at the Evans location since she was 16. She is a 2002 graduate of Greenbrier High School and now a freshman psychology major at Augusta State University, with hopes of becoming a Christian counselor for children.
Winners are chosen by an Atlanta-based five-person panel of business and education leaders based on the student's academic achievements, community, leadership, teamwork and supporting recommendation letters.
O'Neal works between 10 and 15 hours a week as a team leader. Martin nominated her for the first scholarship because she is a wonderful leader and an example for the rest of the Chick-fil-A team.
"She is thoughtful and encouraging to her peers and goes out her way to make things easier for the next shift of employees including leaving notes of thanks and encouragement."
O'Neal recently was honored in Atlanta with the 4-H's Dean's Award, which honors citizenship and community service. In addition to college and her job, O'Neal spends at least another 10 hours a week reaching out to the campus and community as an outreach leader for ASU's Baptist Student Union, and visiting local nursing homes with her dog as pet therapy, and playing contemporary Christian music on her guitar with a group of friends.
"In the age of selfishness, it is great that she is interested in serving others. She does pet therapy and praise worship and still gets good grades," said her mother, Susan. "I don't know how she does it. We are just real proud of her."
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