On Tuesday, April 12, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and partner PepsiCo Foodservice awarded four scholarships to future leaders in the restaurant industry as part of the 2011 Faces of Diversity Awards program.

The $2,500 Faces of Diversity Scholarships were presented to students who have excelled academically at their respective colleges or universities and are pursuing careers and the restaurant and foodservice industry.

The Faces of Diversity Awards program, created by the National Restaurant Association in partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, celebrates diversity in the restaurant and foodservice industry. The awards and scholarships were presented before hundreds of restaurateurs last week at the association’s annual Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

“We are pleased to award these accomplished students with further resources to pursue their careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF.

“Diversity plays a large role in our industry’s strength and success, and we believe that investing in these talented young people will result in an even more successful future. NRAEF scholarships are critical to developing future industry leaders and ensure continued prosperity for America’s restaurants.”

Xavier Teixido, NRAEF vice chair and owner of Harry’s Savoy Grill, presented the scholarships to the following students at the Faces of Diversity Awards ceremony:

  • Dylan Flanders started his culinary education in high school as the president of his chapter of Skills U.S.A. and is now a freshman at Johnson & Wales. His strong passion for cooking and travel inspires him to travel to gain experience in international cuisine and using that expertise, to eventually open his own restaurant in New York City. In addition to maintaining a 3.84 GPA, while in high school, Flanders also gave his time to work with autistic children in a horse riding program. The program supervisor described Flanders as one of those people you meet “once in a lifetime” because of his dedication, confidence and skill.
  • Gabrielle Jenkins is a freshman at Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts, Foodservice Management program. She worked hard in high school to earn her ProStart National Certificate of Achievement and hopes to apply those skills to being a chef and a restaurateur. Jenkins gets her drive and passion from her father who, despite having multiple surgeries and health concerns, has always demonstrated courage and devotion to living life to the fullest. Her high school teacher speaks highly of Jenkins’ leadership, her tenacious work ethic and ability to be both creative and organized. While doing an internship at the Rumor Mill in Maryland, Jenkins was able to contribute menu items that received accolades from staff and was also part of the winning team at an employee cook-off contest. 
  • Shantell Liberato is a junior working towards a degree in Restaurant Institutional Management at The Pennsylvania State University. Liberato’s success began in high school as she served as president of her class and exceeded academically. She is building her career in the foodservice industry because she wants to impact the lives of strangers in a positive way. Liberato believes “that understanding different backgrounds, cultures, morals, and beliefs should be the ultimate goal for everyone entering this industry.” 
  • Marvin Lopez, a freshman at Johnson & Wales, credits his father, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, with teaching him the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Lopez has demonstrated that he has the capacity and commitment to be successful in this industry as a participant in the ProStart program, which gave him valuable competition experience on a national level. Someday Lopez hopes to own his own restaurant. 

NRAEF scholarships are made possible through the philanthropic support of individuals and corporations from all sectors of the restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and education industries. Five years after receiving their scholarships, more than 80 percent of NRAEF scholarship recipients are still studying and/or working in the foodservice industry. 

Industry News, Philanthropy