Culinary School Student Spotlight: Dejahnay Graves

October 25, 2018

Dejahnay Graves is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend The Culinary School. In fact, she says the program has been life changing.

She learned about the program through Delaware WONDER, a job readiness program of Delaware Health and Social Services.

The Culinary School is Dejahnay’s first official entrée into the food service industry. In the past she has held jobs in housekeeping and is a licensed cosmetologist.

Dejahnay moved to Delaware from New York four years ago. She loves to bake and cook dishes that reflect her family’s heritage. Her mom is Cuban and her dad is from Trinidad. Her favorite dishes to prepare are Cuban sandwiches and roti,  a traditional staple of Trinidadian cuisine.

For Dajahnay, the culinary training program is more than just learning to cook. She is learning to become a better version of herself.

“They really turned me into a whole other person,” she admits. She is even on her way to quitting smoking.

Upon graduation, Dajahnay hopes to be in “a happy place.”

“This was a blessing for me,” she says. “Right now with my situation at home, I need a job now… The couple of months that I have to do this [14-week training program] it’s worth not only the pay… it’s worth it, because I have never done anything that really made me feel like this… made me feel like I had a support team, that I can do it… I love it.”

Five years from now, she hopes to be at the ribbon cutting of her own bakery. For now, she is focused on learning as much as she can from Food Bank of Delaware Executive Chef Tim Hunter and Chef Instructors Tish Badamshin and Derrill Stewart.

Dajahnay admits that the training program is challenging. “It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s nerve-wracking, but the outcome is worth it,” she says.

She advises future students to work hard and stay committed to the program. “You have to put in work,” she points out. “You can’t just think it’s easy. It’s not. You have to put in the work, you have to study. You can’t just look at the book and assume, ‘I know everything in it.’ You have to stay committed because those tests… they get tricky.”

At the end of the 14-week training program, Dajahnay hopes to obtain employment at Aramark or Christiana Care, so she can learn as much as possible and save money as she works towards her goal of owning a bakery.

“I appreciate the love and support. This is something I will never forget. I am enjoying it,” she says.

Ready for a career change? The next class of The Culinary School begins January 14, 2019. Click here to learn more or to apply online!

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