Before enrolling at Virginia College in Jacksonville, Tenesha’s life was at a standstill. She knew she wanted to go to college, but beyond that, she was undecided about what to study and unsure of what she wanted to do with her life. Upon visiting the Jacksonville campus, Tenesha found clarity.
“I saw one of the chef instructors in his uniform, and I got inspired to be just like him,” says Tenesha. That same day, she enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at Virginia College, choosing to pursue a diploma not only in Culinary Arts, but in Pastry Arts as well.
While her new culinary aspirations presented an exciting opportunity, it certainly came with challenges. While attending classes, Tenesha found herself homeless and sleeping in her car. But she refused to give up. She used the challenges she faced as motivation to succeed.
On days she was tempted to quit, Tenesha would reflect on one of her favorite quotes: “You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re still thinking about yesterday. When you think about quitting, think about why you started.”
Her hard work paid off, eventually landing her on the President’s List.
“It was a blessing that I didn’t quit,” Tenesha says. Looking back, she is incredibly thankful for the instructors and mentors who supported her and pushed her along the way, even when it meant tough love.
“I am very thankful for such supportive and motivational staff members and instructors,” she says. “Thank you, Chef Bob, for your unconditional support. And to Chef Spencer Osborne, Chef Christiana Barnett, Rheanna Remick and Angie Guient — thank you all.”
Tenesha graduated in December 2016 with diplomas in both Culinary and Pastry Arts and is now an assistant sous chef for Norwegian Cruise Line, preparing meals for the Pride of America Ship’s gallery.
When she reflects on her journey, Tenesha has just one piece of advice for those considering returning to school or for those currently working toward a diploma: “Study your craft diligently. Pay attention to all the little details because it will benefit you in the long run.”