Culinary student shows it’s never too late to learn

April 27, 2017

At 54 years old, Nuria McNamara says it’s never too late in life to learn something new.

In December, Nuria went to her local social services office to apply for SNAP benefits. While there, she learned about the Delaware WONDER program.

Delaware WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness) is led by Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services (DHSS), which administers the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Program in Delaware. It offers targeted career tracks in construction, culinary arts, manufacturing and broad-based job placement.

Nuria chose culinary arts. During her career she has worked in a nursing home kitchen and served as a caregiver. Culinary arts was a perfect fit for her, she says.

Originally, she had planned to return to school to study nursing, but after consideration she decided that taking on student loans and years of study was not a good fit for her.

“[School] is a lot of money,” she explains. “I am 54. It’s going to take me a long time to [complete] and then pay it back.”

Born in Panama, Nuria has two adult sons. Her youngest lives in Panama, while her oldest son is a chef in Washington, D.C.

Nuria’s large Panamanian family has always enjoyed cooking and eating. Once married to a member of the military, Nuria’s family moved around a lot.

At this point in life, Nuria never imagined having the opportunity to attend a culinary training program. She is thankful for the chance to attend The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware.

In week 11 of training, she is honing her skills in the kitchen and also improving her communication skills.

English is her second language so she is thankful for the chance to learn from fellow classmates.

After formalized training, Nuria realizes that many of the kitchen tasks she’s been doing for so very long have been incorrect. Some of her favorite cuisines are Italian and Hispanic food.

She is currently utilizing the skills learned at The Culinary School at an internship at Cocina Lolo in Wilmington.

In addition to working in the kitchen, Nuria also likes front-of-the-house tasks like setting the table and decorating. In her free time she decorates for parties and weddings.

In addition to the kitchen skills she is developing at The Culinary School, Nuria says the Delaware WONDER counselors have been very helpful.

Her advice for other adults in a mid-life career transition, “I am older, but I don’t feel old,” she says. “You can learn at any age. Take the chance to improve.”

The next class of The Culinary School in Newark begins Monday, June 5. To learn more or to apply online, please click here


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