“I wanted to be around young people and help them develop their careers.” With that goal in mind, Suzanne Raley became involved with the Family and Consumer Sciences Center at Quitman High School (Quitman, Mississippi) in 2009.
Two years ago, the Culinary Arts program, along with ProStart, was introduced at the Clark County Career and Tech Center (affiliate to Quitman High School) and Suzanne jumped at the opportunity to educate aspiring culinary professionals.
While the high school is located in an impoverished area with high unemployment, the students are enthusiastic and Suzanne says that “foodservice is one area where there is opportunity.” And it’s not just the local area she impresses upon her 27 students. “[You have] to have a dream and work for it and know there is a great big world with lots of potential. I want kids to believe in themselves.”
Belief is something that Suzanne has had to rely upon very recently. In 2013, Suzanne underwent exploratory surgery that removed a rare blood cancer tumor and then was sent to see experts in Houston. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2013 she spent time with expert doctors in Houston. Their tests indicated she needed bone marrow and stem cell transplants along with an aggressive chemo treatment. The treatment was to last 5 years and even then the doctors gave the treatment a 50/50 shot at success.
Suzanne experienced some kind of Christmas miracle because on Dec 23, 2013 the doctors called and said the latest tests showed absolutely no signs of the cancer. Needless to say, she had a very good Christmas.
She is back teaching the ProStart program and looks forward to competing in their second ProStart competition. Her program competed in their very first year of being a ProStart member and placed 2nd out of 16 teams!
Suzanne also keeps her own culinary skills up to date by attending a two-week culinary school each summer for the past 3 years.
Suzanne came to our attention through a tweet by the Mississippi Restaurant Association. Her ProStart program has recently acquired some Cambro products. Suzanne is using that as another teaching tool. “We love the products. I tell them that quality products are worth it to a business. They last.”
— MS Restaurant Assn (@MHRA) January 24, 2014
We wish Suzanne the best of health and continued success with her ProStart program. She is an inspiration to the foodservice community.
“Foodservice offers a wide range of options… even beyond what people automatically think of foodservice jobs… the ones who are artists can design, those who love interacting with people can sell, work in marketing, PR… so much opportunity.”