My academic and professional experiences have prepared me to participate in the study abroad program in many ways. Not only am I prepared to take my studies and professional accomplishments further, but I have had experiences that will allow me to participate fully in culinary activities abroad, so that I may give back, as well as receive.
Academically, I have learned the terminology of the culinary arts, and I have learned and practiced various culinary procedures. While cooking as a youngster familiarized me with food preparation in general, my education broadened my knowledge base to techniques with which I had not previously been familiar. This academic experience helped me execute professional cooking techniques and learn skills needed to produce, present and serve quality food. In addition, I found it particularly valuable to work as a team with students from different cultural backgrounds.

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Professionally, my experiences have added to my growth as a culinary artist, providing opportunities to learn various aspects of the profession and interact with people from different nationalities and backgrounds. I have catered over the last four years for over 500 families and events including for departments in Homestead Hospital Baptist Health, Centro Campesino Farm Workers Center Inc., Community Health of South Florida, Waterstone Grand Community Center, and the Homestead Baseball International Youth Tournament. I have coordinated and catered for events serving 300 Walmart employees. As part of catering service teams, I have participated in cooking, marketing, menu planning, standardizing recipes, operational structuring, staffing, purchasing, and costing. Over the last four years, I have participated in the transition from a 20-seat cafeteria grossing $93,641 per year to a 50-seat restaurant grossing over $500,000 per year. Being part of the team that created this change was very exciting.

I have been delighted to have also had the opportunity to volunteer in the culinary arts in several capacities, all of which brought me into contact with diverse people and cultures. I catered meals for 300 volunteers for a local church under construction, and was responsible for the purchasing and coordination of these meals. I cooked and donated Puerto Rican food for the Air Base Elementary School Cultural Event in 2012, where children share their ancestral roots and cultures. I prepared and presented and donated Puerto Rican desserts to the Waterstone Grand Community Event in 2012 and again in 2013, where I explained the culture and the food to local participants.

As can be seen by my work and volunteer activities, I greatly enjoy the intersection of food and culture. Participation in the overseas program will contribute to my professional development by broadening my knowledge of other cultures, with more diversity than I have experienced locally. This immersion in other cultures will allow me to truly learn and understand these different cultures, values and foods, and how they influence people’s lives and the way that they view the world. This will be a tremendous opportunity to discover new strengths and abilities, conquer new challenges, and solve new problems. My education and experience so far provides me with the skills and understanding that I will be able to give back to my sponsors overseas, providing them with knowledge of American culture if they are interested, and helping them provide quality food for their people.

My career goals are to obtain a broad education in the culinary arts across a broad spectrum of cultures with a fascinating variety of food ingredients, preparation and presentation techniques, and eating habits, all of which will enhance my career by increasing the variety of food cultures that I am able to showcase in my work. With knowledge of many different cultures, I can then give back to my community, sharing my knowledge and experiences, and my love of the diversity of foods from around the world. I have found that when people enjoy the adventure of different food tastes and sensations, they become more open to appreciating the cultures from which these foods came.

Thank you for this opportunity to enhance my education and professional development through the study abroad program.