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Inside Kendall

Culinary Students Proano and Welch Earn Scholarships from Les Dames d’Escoffier International – Chicago

The Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) awarded scholarships to two Kendall College culinary arts students at a champagne reception on campus on May 14.

Myra Viviana Proano, a career changer earning her associate degree, received $2,500. Her 10-year background in the healthcare industry includes having been a lab clinician and nurse’s assistant, but “My most meaningful achievement has been my success as a culinary student,” she says, evidenced by her frequent appearance on the Dean’s List. Proano’s vision is to be an “ambassador of food to my local community, bringing fresh, local, seasonal food to lower-income families.” One of her Kendall instructors lauded Proano as an honest, forthright hard worker, which will enable her to become “a fine culinarian and credit to the industry.”

Danielle Welch, who is completing her internship to graduate in December 2013, received $5,000. She will add an AAS degree from the School of Culinary Arts to her business degree from Boston College. She grew up in her family’s restaurant in Wisconsin, pitching in and learning every aspect of the operation, including bookkeeping, payroll and purchasing. Welch seeks to learn more about public relations and other business aspects of running her own restaurant. “Danielle is among the top five students I have taught,” says chef and Kendall instructor Pierre Pollin.

Five other female students enrolled in culinary- and baking/pastry-arts programs at schools throughout the metro area also received scholarships from LDEI-Chicago; total disbursement from the chapter in 2013 was $22,500. Scholarships may be applied toward any school-based fees, tuition or other expenses directly related to the recipients’ courses of study.

For more than 30 years, Les Dames d’Escoffier–Chicago ( has awarded scholarships to women pursuing careers in food, nutrition, wine and hospitality while enrolled full time in certificate- and degree-granting programs in Chicago-area postsecondary institutions. This year, scholarships in amounts of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,250 were granted based on academic performance, dedication to community service and financial need. Additionally, each recipient was assigned a mentor from the local LDEI chapter to share expertise and guidance.

“Women are a significant force in Chicago’s vibrant culinary and hospitality scenes,” says Judith Dunbar Hines, chair of LDEI-Chicago’s Scholarship Committee, who presented scholarships to recipients at the reception. “We’re proud, in our 31th year, to continue this grand tradition by recognizing and assisting seven talented students with the potential to become rising stars in the realm of food.”

Les Dames d’Escoffier International (, based in Louisville, Ky., is a nonprofit philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality.

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