An unexpected call delivered the news: Jennifer Nelson had been chosen as one of 25 students nationwide to receive a $1,000 scholarship from restaurant chain Chick-fil-A.
"It was a total surprise," said Nelson, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. "I was sitting in class and got a voice mail from Michael Brown, my boss."
When Nelson returned the call, she learned she was the first employee from her restaurant, the second from the Augusta area and the 53rd from Georgia to win the S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award.
"I didn't even really know that much about it," said the daughter of Byron and Sue Nelson of Martinez. "It's one of those unexpected things."
Nelson, a 2004 graduate of Evans High School, is entering her fifth year of working for Chick-fil-A, working on holidays and weekends and when time off from school permits. She had previously applied for a $1,000 leadership scholarship given by the company and was among more than 1,100 employees who had worked for the chain for at least two years to be awarded the scholarship.
A panel of business and education professionals then selected 25 students from the 1,100 to receive an additional $1,000 S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award, named for the 84-year-old founder of Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A.
"I'm sure that my 4-H work and band participation played a big part in my getting the S. Truett Cathy scholarship," said Nelson, who is studying computer engineering at Georgia Tech.
Nelson has been active in 4-H since fifth grade and was the drum major of the Evans High School Knights marching band her senior year. The oboe player also went to All-State Band Competition.
Jennifer Nelson, a 19-year-old Georgia Tech student, has been working for Chick-fil-A for nearly five years. She is only the second area employee to win the S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award.
Photo by Deborah G. Steele
"Jennifer is a model employee and example to all of our team members," said Brown, the operator of the free-standing Chick-fil-A restaurant on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway. "She truly exhibits the attributes the S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award is intended to reward and recognize."
A member of the Georgia Tech Symphonic Band, Nelson also is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and participated in "Team Buzz," an annual community service project where Georgia Tech students help in community beautification.
Nelson is currently participating in a co-op at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and will work there full-time every other semester until she graduates.
"I could see myself in a management position doing computer work," Nelson said. "A job where I'm the boss, but still doing the work, too."
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