A youth reflection by Lee Encarnacion, a 2021 Customer Service in Culinary graduate.

I used to believe the only thing I was capable of doing was making a cup of coffee. For 3 years that’s all I really knew how to do. Dealing with a child and homelessness at a young age and maintaining a job to be able to just eat was a daily routine. I was losing myself and eventually lost my job. I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces and motivate myself to push forward from this. I understood what it meant to starve and to give up, but I needed to learn how to overcome.

This was the moment I decided to pick myself up and join this wonderful program! I was able to cook and learn beside amazing people who were motivated and passionate about culinary. I knew this is where I belong. I want to continue my education and major in culinary and business. Thanks to this program I gained the passion and motivation to embark upon that journey.

As a young mother, I want to show my son to follow his passion and prosper no matter the situation. I’m extremely proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to better myself not only in a kitchen but as a person in this program. Most importantly I can finally prove that I am beyond a cup of coffee.