VALDOSTA -- Valdosta resident Kristin Rivera recently benefited from Chick-fil-A's 31-year dedication to helping restaurant employees further their education by receiving one of the chain's leadership scholarships for excellence in the areas of work, education, community and personal development.

Rivera became the sixth scholarship employee at the Chick-fil-A restaurant at Colonial Mall Valdosta, which is operated by William Stripling. She will use the $1,000 scholarship to study at Georgia Southern University.

"Chick-fil-A's corporate purpose is to have a positive impact on all those we come in contact with," Stripling said.

"This applies not only to our customers but also to our restaurant team members such as Kristin. We strive to encourage growth and success in all areas of their life."

This year, Chick-fil-A expanded its commitment to the Leadership Scholarship Program by 10 percent, raising the yearly scholarship amount to $1.1 million which will result in an overall total of nearly $20 million by year end.

To date, 4,453 Chick-fil-A restaurant team members in Georgia have earned nearly $4.4 million in Chick-fil-A leadership scholarships.

Restaurant employees must complete their high school education, remain active in their school and community, demonstrate a solid work ethic and good teamwork, and possess strong leadership abilities and a desire to succeed to be eligible for the Chick-fil-A Leadership Scholarship. Since 1973, nearly 17,600 Chick-fil-A restaurant employees have benefited from the program created by Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc.

"Awarding scholarships is one way to express our appreciation to restaurant employees who show us that our youth can and do make a difference not only in the workplace, but also in the schools and communities," Cathy said. "Obtaining additional education will help these students continue along their paths of achievement."

Nearly 22 percent of current Chick-fil-A operators have received Chick-fil-A leadership scholarships and are prefect examples of the impact the scholarship program can have on a restaurant employee's future.

Chick-fil-A scholarship recipients have attended approximately 2,000 institutions of higher learning across North America and work in almost every profession and field of endeavor, from engineers to ministers to doctors.

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