Mary is one of our recent Food Service Training Academy students who defied the odds to graduate from the program with honors. She spent her final weeks as an FSTA student interning for Gourmet Dining at Rutgers-Newark and was hired full-time upon completing the program. Read her heartfelt graduation speech below:
I would like to thank everyone for attending the Community FoodBank of New Jersey Food Service Training Academy’s first graduating class of 2018.
Chef Paul, fellow distinguished chefs, family, friends, and fellow graduates–today is the day my peers and I get the privilege and honor to stand up and proudly own our success. Roy J. Bennett said, “Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented thank you know, and capable of more than you can imagine.”
We were brave when we stepped out of our comfort zones and in through the classroom door. We showed our true talents when we entered the commercial kitchen and exceedingly produced what was expected of us.
And tonight as we stand here, we are bigger and more than capable to attain our life’s callings, dreams, desires, and goals.
As a wife and mother of ten, I did not walk into this program with much confidence that I would succeed. On the first day, Chef Paul told all of the students to look to the left and then to the right of us and that some of the faces we see that first day will not be there on graduation day. He also said if we don’t have a love for cooking or are doing the program for someone else, we should not be there. I felt the odds were stacked against me.
Every time we learned something new, I could not imagine how I was going to remember it every time it came around for tests. I just knew I was going to fail.
Then when life’s adversities started coming my way, I just knew that I was making a mistake–schools, teachers calling my phone, my son’s bus not picking him up, sick child after sick child. Almost every week, I was quitting because the stress and pressure felt like too much.
But through it all, I made it. This program showed me I am stronger and braver and capable.
I want to thank the staff for teaching me and reminding me that I had it in my all along.
I want to thank all of my friends for encouragement and being a listening ear at times.
Thank you Mom for your constant prayers. Thank you Daddy for reminding me that I am smart and to make something of myself. Thank you Julia for loving me as your daughter.
I want to thank my kids for your help and support along the way–helping me study with my flash cards in the emergency room, both my big girls waking up early to help me get the babies to daycare as I am literally running for the bus.
But most of all, I want to thank my husband, who helped me realize my dream, encouraged me to go after it, and pushed me every step of the way and pushed me even harder when I wanted to give up and walk away. Thank you, Jamare. I love you!