I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I say that ProStart changed my life. I can’t even imagine being in a culinary program that didn’t follow the ProStart curriculum. My instructors (Julie Ivan and Aaron Gaertner) at the Saginaw Career Complex in Michigan make sure that not only do students respect the chef’s coat, the profession and the industry - they make sure we know what ProStart IS, what NRAEF stands for and what it can do for us if we take advantage of the opportunities available. I am only 18 years old and I feel more qualified than a lot of people in the industry because the ProStart program puts us so far ahead with the textbook and with our hands-on work in the kitchen.
I competed in a Knowledge Bowl competition and my team received fifth place in Michigan. All the extra work put into competitions made it even more rewarding. Watching students compete in the culinary competition is mind-blowing. The products these kids put out in one hour make you wonder what the fine dining industry would be like without ProStart. I know students that have won more than $14,000 AND a trip to the NRA Food Show in Chicago from the work they put in to ONE competition. And that’s just junior year!
If you take both years of the program you get another year of countless opportunities to advance. My instructors have the senior project model of ProStart culinary competitions. Students prepare a three course meal in one hour, and we all make wonderful products and finish on time. It’s amazing what you can do when you actually put in the work, and ProStart is FUN. You WANT to do the competitions. You WANT to advance in the industry after being given so many tools for success.
ProStart did so much for me in such a small amount of time that I wish I could stay in high school, but by the time I graduated I was far ahead of a lot of my peers. I will be attending the Culinary Institute of Michigan in April 2016 to pursue a baking and pastry degree and I plan to own a bakery on Mackinac Island some day. I also plan to sign up for ProStart alumni and visit my teachers while I’m still in town just to see future students taking the opportunities ProStart gives them. I want to go advocate for ProStart everywhere and tell people what it did for me and my classmates, and what it can do for you or your child.
This is a guest blog post from Rachel Dilas.