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Inside Kendall

Meet Our Presidential Scholarship Award Recipients

Whether it’s in India or Illinois, both recipients of the Presidential Scholarships this fall have a passion for the culinary arts and hospitality, which will translate to providing stellar experiences for their customers. Read their stories:

James Payne

Des Plaines, Illinois

Associate Degree in Culinary Arts

“Working in restaurants has always given me great satisfaction. My culinary education began at Maine West High School, where I studied Foods 101, Gourmet Foods, and Professional Foods. I held a leadership role as a teacher’s assistant in the cooking lab for all three cooking classes. In addition to helping in the cooking lab, I participated in cooking competitions. As a sophomore, I received a silver medal in a FCCLA state competition. As a junior, I competed in a sectionals cooking competition at Kendall College. Finally, as a senior, I competed in a state cooking competition, also at Kendall College. After participating in these cooking competitions, I developed multiple cooking skills from educated and talented chefs.

“I began my undergraduate education at Oakton Community College and Harper College in the fall of 2014. This April, I competed at the International Food Service Executives Association Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, with the Harper College Culinary Competition Team. We had to make an appetizer, entrée, and dessert in 90 minutes. My major contributions to the challenge included preparing the dessert and creating the tablescape. I created a vanilla crepe filled with an orange custard and a raspberry sauce with whipped cream. I was proud to be a part of team, meet new students from other states and network with fellow professionals.

“My work experience has been growing for the past four years. In the fall of 2015, I had a five-month internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I worked at its Port Orleans Resort in both the quick service restaurant, The Food Mill, and the casual sit-down restaurant, Boatwright’s, as a prep cook. The Head Chef of the resort saw my compassion, talent and willingness to learn and offered me a full-time position after I earn my degree.

“My teamwork and communications skills have been assets in the work environment and at school. Although working in restaurants can be stressful, I am always able to keep calm and help my coworkers to make sure our service is professional. I am eager to assist in training and to collaborate with my coworkers to provide the best dining experience for everyone.

“The hospitality field is both challenging and stimulating. I aspire to create meals that others will enjoy as much as I enjoy preparing them. An education from Kendall College will give me the tools to achieve these goals. Kendall is a good match for me because the instructors care about their students and they want them to succeed. When I have finished my studies, I plan to work in casual dining. My aspiration is to prepare quality food at reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere.”

Prerana Sharma

Bangalore, India

Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry

“When I think of the defining moment when I said to myself, ‘Yes, this is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’ I think of the time one of my close friends, Diya, asked me if I could make her Beatles-themed cupcakes. I told her that I wasn’t very confident since I was very new to baking. I managed to pull it off by having pictures of the band printed on edible rice paper sheets and placed on top of the cupcakes. It was completely worth the effort when I presented the cupcakes to Diya and she exhibited her joy by jumping around the entire classroom with the cupcakes. This made me realize that baking wasn’t just a medium of achieving joy for myself but is also an avenue to spread joy to others.

“Hailing from a very modest family that owned small farm lands in northern India, my father had at a very young age decided to follow his desire to do something apart from family business. This desire led him to leave his home town and go into the city to earn a college degree. He worked to put himself through college as a waiter and is now the director of sales in a hotel in Dubai. He has constantly inspired me to pursue my dream.

“My vision is clear. I want to own a bakery that also concentrates on making products that are nutritional. This stems from the fact that I am a fitness enthusiast. I want to make products that can be eaten by people with diabetes, those who are obese or any such individual who cannot otherwise eat baked products. I want to change the perception of desserts from being something that can potentially make you fat to being something that provides nutritional benefits.

“Since the inception of Sinful Confections four years ago, I have participated in food festivals and cultural events by putting up stalls and bake sales. I had the opportunity to be a part of a fundraising event organized by an NGO and have participated in a marathon that was organized to raise funds for breast cancer research. I have also participated in competitions, such as Young Chef India, where I was awarded runner-up best chef in the south India division.

“I have a vision as to how my shop should look in terms of the interiors, the appearance of the desserts and how I want a customer to feel. I understand the dynamics involved in managing a business by earning my bachelor’s in business management. What I lack are the skills it would take to create the desserts with the highest standards. Kendall is the university I chose to bridge that gap and I strongly believe that the college, with its structured curriculum, facilities and experienced chefs is the right fit for me.

“By becoming successful in my career, I hope to inspire people in India, particularly women, to not be afraid to choose this particular industry.”

Learn more about Kendall’s scholarships.

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