Zack Smith and Allison Dabney’s time at Oxford High School is over, and they will both enroll at Ole Miss in the fall of 2017. For the past three years, both have worked at Chick-fil-A on West Jackson Ave., and their commitment to the community and their academic records helped them become the recipients of a $2,500 scholarship through “Chick-fil-A’s Remarkable Futures Initiative.”
Around the country, 3,424 students received the scholarship, and Chick-fil-A has awarded a total of over $9 million through the program in 2017 alone. When the pair was asked to stay late after finishing a shift, they didn’t know what was going on. When their families walked in, they knew something special was happening, and Smith noticed one detail that let him know what was going on.
“Once I saw that they had a big cookie cake laid out, I knew it was the real deal,” Smith said. “It really caught us both off guard, but it was really special to be there with our whole families. It was a fulfilling moment.”
Dabney knew about the scholarship when she applied to the restaurant and made it her goal to receive it. In her journey to receive the scholarship, Dabney volunteered with the anchor club at Oxford High while working to find homes for the displaced Riverside families in Oxford, and delivering meals to families in need. Smith does community work with his church along with the “Love Packs” organization, working to combat hunger around the Oxford area.
During their time at Chick-fil-A, both Smith and Dabney say they have learned a great deal from their experience.
“My time there has shown me that you’ve got work hard to get places. Chick-fil-A offers the chance to move up, raises and leadership positions and you get that opportunity to strive to be better every day,” Dabney said.
Smith added, “It’s taught me to work to come together with a group of people to achieve the same goals, grow the business be efficient and values and accountability for yourself.”
Owner of the Oxford location, Lance Reed, recognizes the hard work that Smith and Dabney have put in and noted that they are well deserving of the scholarship.
“Zach and Allison have been great. Both are very dependable, great with team members and customers. They’re great kids and I’m so proud of them and excited for them. This is a great launching point for them as they pursue their degrees moving forward,” Reed said.
Reed mentioned that many Chick-fil-A employees are students, and he’s proud to be a part of an organization that rewards their hard work.
“It says a lot about our company and our store, that we can have a positive impact on those who come into contact with Chick-fil-A,” Reed said. “It’s the adage of blessed to be a blessing, and we feel that we really are. This is an opportunity to give back to those who work hard and serve in our stores.”
Already looking toward the future, Smith wants to become an entrepreneur, and as for Dabney, things may come full circle.
“I’d personally like to own my own business, and I’ve even thought about owning my own Chick-fil-A some day,” Dabney said.
Smith and Dabney will continue to work at Chick-fil-A, and both plan to major in business at Ole Miss.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.