Chelsea Burks wanted to get far away from Atlanta after she graduated high school. But dreams have the tendency to change.

Burks grew up in the city and attended the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy. She graduated salutatorian and applied for multiple colleges.

At the time, Burks’ stepmother, a city of Atlanta employee, had just given birth to a baby boy. She was encouraged to apply to Georgia Institute of Technology, and she was accepted.

Burks excelled at Georgia Tech, and two years in she heard of a program that allowed valedictorian and salutatorians of Atlanta Public Schools to apply to Georgia Tech and receive a scholarship covering tuition. At the same time, Burks learned about the Atlanta Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program that supports Atlanta youth as they pursue post-secondary education at a school of their choice.

The first scholarship covered her first four years, and the Mayor’s Scholarship covered the fifth year and allowed Burks to cover textbooks and other school-related costs.

The Mayor’s Scholarship helped her graduate without the worry of debt. She graduated in May with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in operation and supply chain management. She also received a pre-law certificate. Because of the Mayor’s Scholarship, Burks can now apply the money she had saved toward her graduate studies and law school.

“I’m planning on getting a master’s and I’m really into intellectual property law,” Burks said. “It was great that I was able to apply and go to Georgia Tech. I was able to stay close to home, be close to my family and be in my brothers’ lives. It’s crazy how that happens.”

The Atlanta Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program supports Atlanta youth as they pursue education at a college or university of their choice. The scholarship helps them secure resources so they can focus on their studies. Proceeds from the Mayor’s 5K on the 5th Runway helps fund the mayor’s scholarship and United Way of Greater Atlanta’s College Bound Initiative.