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All-American Success Stories in Workforce Education

 A Life Changing Challenge

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Yolanda Gibson
First Place Winner, Career & Technical Education,
Region 4


Prior to coming to Traviss, Yolanda had earned her State of Florida High School Diploma and was a single parent. Her life was a challenge. It was not easy to find assistance, and she ended up at a homeless shelter. Finding encouragement in these new surroundings, Yolanda started working at a fast food restaurant. After just two days of employment, Yolanda knew she needed job training. She went to Heartland (now Polk Works) for testing and discovered she had an aptitude for accounting. Thanks to the financial aid she received from Heartland, Yolanda was able to enroll in the Accounting Operations Program at Traviss. After completing her program in 1998, Yolanda was hired by US Foodservice in accounts payable. By 2000, Yolanda was able to move into her own home, purchase a car, and regain custody of her daughter. However, this success story is far from over. Yolanda is currently enrolled at St. Leo University in accounting and business administration, with a specialty in management. She has maintained a 3.7 grade point average.

Yolanda credits Traviss Technical Center for helping her to get her life back in order and is passionate about giving back to her community by telling her story. Yolanda stated, "I was given the strength to get out of a difficult situation. I want to show others that it can be done." Over the past several years, Yolanda has volunteered as a chaperone with her daughter's Girl Scout troop and served on a United Way agency board as an advocate for the homeless.

 Recipe for Success

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Jason Osborne
Second Place Winner, Career & Technical Education,
Region 4


Jason found his recipe for success in the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts program at Charlotte Technical Center. When he graduated from high school in 1991, Jason had no idea what he should do next. He worked a kitchen job during high school and was later encouraged to enter a cooking school. Once in school, everything clicked into place. He placed first in Regional Skill Olympics sponsored by the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America and received the Distinguished Student Award by the Florida Restaurant Association.

After completing the program in 1993, Jason immediately enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he graduated in 1995. He has held positions in New York City, Atlanta, and Ft. Myers. His mentor, Chef Joe Scully, hired him after college to work in Indigo, an upscale, à la carte restaurant in Atlanta. Jason advanced to sous chef in one year. In 1997 Jason competed on a five-person team called the Culinary Salon which won two bronze and one gold medals. He also won the Georgia Seafood Challenge in 1998 and placed second in 1999. Jason is currently executive Chef at the prestigious Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta. He heads a 30 member staff and makes $65,000 per year.

Recognizing the value of mentors, Jason established himself as a mentor for students in the field. He has sponsored externships for five students from the Culinary Institute of America. He has partnered with the Atlanta Collaborative Kitchen which is an urban food bank program. Jason is one of several chefs who have established a four-week training program in their kitchens for jobless citizens to teach the basics of food preparation. To date, Jason has hired two of them for cook's assistant positions.

For more information on the All-American Success Stories, see http://www.fldoe.org/news/2004/2004_02_13-2.asp.