Quanesha Burks

Quanesha Burks: From McDonald’s to the Olympics!

Quanesha Burks is a determined and faithful young lady. To support her dreams to attend college, she started working at McDonald’s while in high school. And in the hopes of gaining college scholarship money, she began playing sports in High School. 

Her strength, attitude, and faith led her from simply having a dream to something she never imagined: a free ride to college and a spot on the US Olympic track team as a long jumper! Learn how Quanesha made this amazing leap from McDonald’s to college to the Olympics with hard work and believing in herself. 


Quanesha Burks was raised in Hartselle, Alabama by her grandparents. She was paid $100 every two weeks at her McDonald’s job, to help her family. She went to work happily, knowing her money could be used for her to attend college.

Burks began running on the track team for her high school and set seven school records as an 11-time state champion! She earned a title for outstanding athletes and won two NCAA outdoor and indoor long jump titles. Quanesha continued to work hard, giving her the opportunity to go to the University of Alabama for free!  Her dream of college was now a reality.  But this is not the end of her story, accomplishments or challenges.


In 2019, Burk’s grandfather passed away a week before the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Quanesha described him as “the only dad I had in my life.” She attended his funeral and then competed days later. Unfortunately, she did not record a successful jump and missed the 2019 World Championships.

Even though she was going through a hard time, Burks continued training and fighting for her passion. Sadly, Burks bruised a bone in her thigh and couldn’t run or jump for 11 weeks.

“It felt like all the odds were against me,” Burks stated. 

But she didn’t give up hope. “I had my goals set and I knew I could do it,” Burks said. 


Burks gave her body time to rest and recovered from her injury. She jumped in many competitions before she signed up for the most important one of her life so far, trying out for the 202o Tokyo Olympics. 

Burks’s first round of jumping went well but her scores became worse as the competition moved forwards. She refused to be discouraged. 

In the fifth round, she moved from sixth place into third with a lifetime personal best of 6.96 meters! Quanesha Burks made it onto the USA Olympic Team!

The day after making the team, Burks ordered medium fries with no salt and a side of sweet and sour sauce at McDonald’s. She didn’t order from McDonalds often, but she knew she had to celebrate! 

“I just know it all starts with your confidence within. Everything I’ve become is because of my mindset and my determination… It’s been a journey and it all started with a little girl working at McDonald’s and here I am,” Burks stated.

“Being an Olympian is great but it could never be as fulfilling as the joy of knowing how my faith was tested beyond measures and I held on to God’s promise with all the trust I had.”

Quanesha Burks shows young girls and boys all around the world how important the power of believing in yourself and having faith is. And that no matter how where you start, anyone can follow their dreams and turn them into reality. Learn more about her story in this inspiring video and then think about what dreams may lie ahead for you!

Additional Resources: 

  • Check out this list of other track and field athletes that have qualified at the 2021 Olympics!
  • Look at this short article to learn 10 facts about the Olympic Games!
  • Read these inspirational quotes about determination for kids!

Topics for Discussion: 

  • How do you believe Quanesha’s positive mindset helped her reach her goal? 
  • What is one thing that inspires you about Quanesha’s story? 
  • How does determination play a part in Quanesha’s life? 
  • What are your dreams? What has this article taught you about reaching them? 

Take Action: 

  • Watch this video about building confidence in yourself and keeping a positive mindset!
  • Don’t give up on your goals! Write them down on a sheet of paper and say them outloud to motivate yourself to pursue your goal!
  • When reaching a goal, write down small steps you can take everyday and reward yourself throughout your progress. 

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.
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