“This program really does help you find the beauty in a lot of different things.”

Ivonne, 26, was looking for a way to support her family while doing what she loves when she enrolled in the Food Service Training Academy. One of seven kids to a single mom who’s sick and requires assistance, Ivonne serves as the family’s head of household.

“I’m a very driven woman to work and to provide for my family,” she told us. Having gone to community college and changed her career focus a few times, from dental hygiene to criminal justice to IT, Ivonne is also motivated to discover her passion in life.

Her brother graduated from FSTA in 2016 and encouraged her to apply. As soon as she began attending the program, she knew that the culinary field was the right path for her.

“I always knew I loved cooking, but I didn’t know how much I loved cooking,” she said. “I didn’t know that it was my happy place until I came here.”

Ivonne’s skills and FSTA background were so impressive to employers that she was hired to work in the kitchen at the local VA hospital before even graduating from the program. She aspires to work towards a managerial role in the food service industry and eventually own her own restaurant.

“This program really does help you find the beauty in a lot of different things,” Ivonne added, “from slicing meat down to making fruit salad platters. I love every bit of it.”

Watch the video below to see Ivonne and her 14 fellow students become the most recent graduates of the Food Service Training Academy.