Abigail Alford Wins Chipotle’s “Cultivating Thought” Student Essay Contest

Abigail Alford, an incoming Florida College freshman and presidential scholar, has been selected as one of the 10 grand prizewinners of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s “Cultivating Thought” student essay scholarship contest, judged by acclaimed author Jonathan Safran Foer.

“My mom and I decided early on that applying for scholarships would be a priority, and we’re so thankful for the positive results of that decision,” Abigail said.

The “Cultivating Thought” contest challenged students ages 13 to 18 to submit an original story about when food created a memory. Abigail’s essay, “Two Minutes With Granny Sue,” was chosen based on its originality, creativity and quality of composition. The essay is about the first time she enjoyed ice cream from an ice cream truck after a lifetime of hearing “no” from her loving parents. “Two Minutes With Granny Sue” is featured on Chipotle packaging alongside artwork inspired by the essay, and Abigail received a $20,000 scholarship to support her continuing education.

“When I first found out about winning the Chipotle scholarship, I remember breaking down in tears and thanking God over and over again because I was so grateful to have won something that would ease the financial burden of my college expenses,” Abigail said.

Abigail graduated from Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and will be joining the Florida College family on campus in the fall as a freshman in the elementary education program. She is interested in getting involved on campus with the theater productions and as a member of the chorus, the Florida College Friends and the Camp Friends, but most of all, she is excited to be a part of the spiritual atmosphere.

“I’ve never had the chance to be in an academic environment where I’m surrounded by people who share my excitement for God,” Abigail said. “I can’t wait to be around people who will not only help further my education, but will also encourage me to learn, live, and lead His way.”

Florida College would like to congratulate Abigail Alford on winning Chipotle Mexican Grill’s “Cultivating Thought” student essay contest and welcome her to the Florida College family!

Read Abigail Alford’s complete essay below.


“Two Minutes With Granny Sue”
by Abigail Alford

I had grown up around the word “No.” My parents, diligent in teaching me good manners, were especially fond of this word. My childhood requests for simple things—toys, mainly—were met with a loving, but firm, “No.” They said “No” to playing in the cold rain, they said “No” to getting the $50 light-up shoes, and they said “No” to the ice cream truck. Until one summer day…

About eight years ago, my family and I had gone to eastern Tennessee for a cookout. There was a sweet old lady who hosted it. Her name was Granny Sue. When I met her, I tried to call her Mrs. Sue, but my parents said “No” to addressing someone as anything else but Mr. or Mrs. She quickly corrected me, saying that everyone called her Granny Sue, and that we were not any exception. At this cookout, my friends and I were gleefully playing tag around her backyard when we heard the distant calling of an ice cream truck slowly rambling through her neighborhood. My friends got excited and ran to the front of the house to wait for its arrival. I was hesitant to follow, for the ice cream truck was just another “No” from my parents.

But then Granny Sue got up from her lawn chair and called to the kids in the yard. “Do y’all want some ice cream?”

My eyes suddenly lit up. Could I, in my childhood of “No’s” perhaps get a “Yes” from this sweet old lady? I looked at my parents expectantly. Receiving that glorious and coveted nod of approval, I raced to the front lawn where the truck was waiting to disperse its treasures to the children. The ice cream itself was nothing memorable. It was simply 50 cents of sweet “Yes.”