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National Restaurant Association - Helping culinary students become entrepreneurs

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Helping culinary students become entrepreneurs



Jessica Havel’s interest in the restaurant industry began at a young age as she watched family members in the kitchen and helped her grandpa with his catering business.

“From that experience early on, I was able to learn basic cooking skills and lessons in customer service,” says Havel, an American Dream scholarship winner. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers the scholarship through its Faces of Diversity program.

Havel, who studies culinary science at Iowa State University, is a former ProStart student. The NRAEF offers the two-year career and technical education program in 1,700 secondary schools and CTE centers.

“The ProStart program taught me so much more than culinary skills,” Havel says. “During those two years, I learned how to work together with my team and challenge myself to continually improve my work. I believe that it was ProStart that pushed me to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.”

Havel received the Faces of Diversity scholarship in the name of Pamela Patton, owner of Patton’s Restaurant & Catering in Des Moines, Iowa. Each year, the NRAEF awards scholarships to deserving students in the name of the American Dream winners. Havel (left) and Patton are pictured above.

“Receiving this scholarship means so much to me …  She is a female entrepreneur like I hope to be someday.” She describes Patton as an inspiration.

NRAEF created the Faces of Diversity Award to promote diversity and inclusion in the restaurant industry. It celebrates restaurants’ role in providing a ladder of opportunity for millions of Americans.

Applications are open for the 2016 Faces of Diversity American Dream Awards. Recipients receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony

Havel also received a scholarship through the Iowa Restaurant Association, sponsored by the Trostel family. “It is an honor to receive a scholarship that means so much to their family,” she says.

Havel hopes to someday open a bakery that uses only fresh and local ingredients. She recommends the ProStart program for any high school student looking to make a career in the restaurant industry.

Pictured: Havel and 2015 Faces of Diversity American Dream award winner Pamela Patton

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