Thursday, March 15, 2012

UWG Student Wins $5,000 Arby’s Scholarship

A University of West Georgia student has won a $5,000 scholarship from Arby’s Restaurant Group. Dana Towns, an aspiring journalist, competed against other Arby’s employees in the southeast for the college scholarship.

“This will put me ahead of my bills,” said Towns, who is scheduled to graduate in December. The 22-year-old juggles her studies and her Arby’s job with three others – at UWG’s Center for Student Involvement, UTV 13 and Atlanta Heights Charter School.

“I plan to give some of it to my mother. She’s the reason I am here,” said Towns, who lives across the street from campus and works at the Arby’s in Bremen. “I’ll pay some bills and put the rest in savings.”

For the scholarship, Towns wrote a 1,000-word essay about her goals. She wrote about wanting to be a reporter: when she was younger, she wrote and published the Family Tribune. She filled it with news and tidbits about her relatives for her family’s weekly gatherings.

“Dana is probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever met,” said Erin Mills, who was the general manager of the Bremen Arby’s and encouraged Towns to apply. “Whatever is going on in life, at school or at work, she can still come in to work with a smile. She has been the backbone of the store.

“She has that very rare and special quality – no one is a stranger to Dana. She will always talk to customers and employees, she’s very generous and caring,” said Mills, who is currently an area supervisor for Arby’s.

Towns was surprised with scholarship win during a recent annual meeting in Decatur. There was a festive atmosphere as awards were announced for various stores. But Towns didn’t know she had won the scholarship. She thought she was among the finalists. Mills and her general manager stood next to her as the vice president of operations described the winner.

“He said ‘This young lady joined us in 2009.’ I said, Ok, I’m still in it. Then he said ‘She’s a student at UWG.’ I broke down. I started crying immediately.”

Her mother and sister joined her onstage. “Everybody started cheering. I was crying and crying,” said Towns, who graduated from South Gwinnett High School in Snellville. “I was preparing myself to lose. It was very emotional for me. It was one of my proudest moments.”

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