Culinary Arts, BirminghamChris


“I’ve always been in the restaurant business. I’ve worked at a seafood restaurant, an Italian restaurant, multiple bars. Yeah, I’ve been in all types.

There’s a lot that I still didn’t know, even working in restaurants for so long.

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For the most part it’s what I expected. Very fast-paced, you’re learning. Go. Go. Go and do it right. Not much time to mess up or fix your mistakes. It’s very much what I expected it to be and that’s how I work anyway.

I am in school full-time and I work in a kitchen, as well, so I can pay bills and take care of my kids. Being a single dad and working and going to school — it’s a lot of sleepless nights, but I make it work.

My kids are four and two. My oldest is Brice and my youngest is Parker. I want to set a good example for them. I want them to know the meaning of hard work and doing what you gotta do to survive and be a great role model.

“I am in school full-time and I work in a kitchen, as well, so I can pay bills and take care of my kids.”

My immediate goal right after is to continue working in the kitchen I am in and helping to build that menu. Put my training to use. Down the road, it would be to open my own restaurant. I want to have multiple. A bar and grill-type thing, easy menu. Fun atmosphere. Another would be fine dining and, if I am lucky enough, family dining.

I was in the Army. I was combat. In the fight basically is the easiest way to describe it. I yell a lot. It’s not intentional — it’s how I motivate. It’s how I was motivated when I was in the Army. So it helps me.

My greatest accomplishment is being here every day. I work until one or two in the morning, get a few hours of sleep and then get here. Coming to class is a great accomplishment.”

We’re in this togetherRead More of Our Stories

Tia, Huntsville“I really wanted to work in oncology because I lost my mom to cancer.”

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Kennedy, Huntsville“Cosmetology is always something I’ve liked since I was little.”

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Jay, Birmingham“I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant.”

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Are you a Virginia College student, graduate or staff member?We’d love to hear your story!

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Kumesia, Jacksonville Graduate

“My husband passed away in February 2017. I chose the medical assistant field because of taking care of him and my elderly parents.”

Janet, Knoxville Student

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Stephanie, Lubbock Student

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Almarina, Shreveport Graduate

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Gene, Biloxi Graduate

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Amber, Online Student

“I have worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years and owned a fitness business for eight years. But the older I got, I knew I would have to let it go. I was 42 years old and thought it was too late to go back to school and probably impossible with two teenage boys.”

Heather, Greenville Graduate

“I’m not a person that gives up easily on myself or others.”

Christine, Savannah Student

“The proudest moment in my life is that after I had my son, I returned to finish my schooling.”

Ryan, Charleston Student

“My grandmother was and will always be my biggest inspiration in the kitchen. She used to put all her heart into making us the best tortitas with coffee and a big smile. It is not what you have on hand, it's about what you make with what you have.”

Margarita, Richmond Student

“When I was a little girl I knew that cosmetology was my passion. I would always style my hair before bed, or in the mornings before I went to school.”

Tonya, Birmingham Graduate

“As a mom of five, I didn't think going back to school was possible. I was working two and three jobs just to hold our family together. I decided in 2015 to enroll at Virginia College. Upon graduation, I was offered a full-time job by my externship site.”

Cynthia, Augusta Graduate/Instructor

“Never let anyone stop you from becoming a greater person in life. No matter what, keep going!”

Allison, Columbus Student

“I am scared to death to leave my classmates and teachers when I graduate because I love them and have become attached.”

Kelsey, Baton Rouge Student

“I knew that working in fast food places for the rest of my life was not going to cut it. I wanted a career. I always loved to learn about health and the human body.”

Latonia, Florence Student

“I am the oldest of five kids. At a young age my mother got sick, and I had to step up to the plate.”

Lauren, Austin Student

“My proudest moment was when I first started and I made the Dean's List. I was thrilled because I have never been on any list!”

Alicia, Greenville Student

“I want my son to know that you are never too old to accomplish any of your dreams and you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Jessica, Knoxville Student

“I am 53 and decided to start over in my career.”

Tammy, Augusta Student

“I was a truck driver for 18 years and due to medical issues I had to give it up. I'm not ready to give up working so I decided to pursue another career.”

Diana, Shreveport Student

“I worked as a hairstylist for over 30 years and a licensed cosmetology instructor for 23 years. I know that hard work pays off in the long run.”

Meshandra, Macon Instructor

“I wanted better for my children and to show them there’s always something to learn.”

Laura, Jacksonville Student

“My family motivates me, especially my 15-year-old son. I try to set a good example for him!”

Christy, Richmond Student

“I am a cancer survivor. I never thought with my illness that I would be able to continue my education, but the great instructors made the impossible possible!”

Tammie, Macon Student

“There was a time in my life when I was sickly. One day, my husband took me to get a makeover. The transformation was phenomenal. I want to make people feel the way I felt that day.”

Sable, Columbus Graduate

“I was 34, a single mother of three. I worked full-time and was a full-time student. My life was nonstop for two years. As time went on it became a lot easier and a lot more fun.”

LaTasha, Augusta Graduate

“I’m a 37-year-old proud mother of three children and three stepchildren, a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA, and working full-time.”

Virginia, Lubbock Student

“I get motivation from my two-year-old grandson that I am raising alone. Every time I look at him, I know that he deserves the best life. I want him to have the best. I want him to be able to say he is proud of me.”

Felisha, Florence Graduate

“Being a chef is a dream of mine. I don’t want to think about what could have been. I had to take the chance.”

Fred, Richmond Student

“I chose Business Administration because I wanted to fully understand owning and operating a business. I am very independent and very curious.”

Cronyn, Charleston Student

“It was a hard decision to come back to school because I felt like I would not be able to make it through because I really don't like school. There have been some struggles, but with the help of my family and instructors I made it through. I will be starting my externship next term!”

Lakeisha, Greenville Student

“I kept telling myself I was going to do this but never did it. Last year, I put my foot down and told myself that I am going to finish school.”

Kerpernia, Mobile Student

“I chose the field I am in because I have always wanted to help people who are sick feel better.”

Kennesha, Huntsville Graduate

“My motivation is my six-year-old daughter. To know that this little person is depending on me for everything makes me want to work that much harder and strive that much more for success.”

Lakesha, Savannah Student

“I chose my area of study because my brother has PTSD, TBI, and anxiety. He was in the military and went overseas five times. His medical condition made me really want to help and work with other veterans like him.”

Abbe, Greenville Student

“As a single mother, I wanted to show my son it wasn’t too late to get my degree! I finished knowing I could start a career and provide for him and give him the life I never had.”

Chelsea, Birmingham Graduate

“I am a divorced mom with a special needs son who is now 21 years old. Just me and my son, we struggled to make it. It seems that all my life people were telling me no, you can't do that. At 52, I decided that I needed something to help our lives get better.”

Mary, Savannah Graduate

“I have completed eight years with two deployments in service to my country.”

Eric, Jackson Student

“My son is what motivates me to do my best every day. He is the reason I push myself to finish school and be successful. ”

Ashley, Greenville Student

“I gave up partying late at night to study late at night. And all the hard work paid off.”

Yesica, ChattanoogaGraduate

“I have been a chef for almost 30 years. Seeing the satisfaction on the faces of the students motivates me. Knowing that they have shared their passion for food and have made people's days a little brighter through their talents in the kitchen makes me happy.”

Mark, Greenville Program Director

“I am a mother of four that wanted more in life than working in at a dead-end job not being able to take care of my family. I graduated in March 2016 and got offered a job with UNC Healthcare in April 2016.”

Tanishia, Greensboro Graduate

“I chose the medical field because I love to learn new things. I also love helping people and doing everything I can to help their health or make them smile.”

Alisa, Fort Pierce Graduate

“I love everything about cosmetology — hair, makeup, nails, everything!”

Camell, Columbia Student

“Was my journey easy? No. It took a lot of prayer and hard work, working two jobs and attending school full-time. I didn't have a car so public transportation was how I got to school each and every day. It took dedication and never giving up even when I wanted to.”

Dianna, Columbia Graduate

“Before enrolling in school, I never really felt like I was doing what I should be doing.”

Bonnie, Florence Student

“I am motivated by the students. I am constantly reminded that everyone is reaching for something.”

Kelly, Pensacola Instructor

“Being in the military and seeing a lot of people sick, it gave me the motivation to do something challenging and be better.”

Jamar, Savannah Graduate

“I went to a lot of different schools and none of them were the right fit for me. My advice is if you are tired of being a number, and really want to be treated like a person, VC is the school for you.”

Carolyn, Florence Graduate

“I have been told by some family members that I do not have what it takes to become a nurse; they have motivated me to prove them wrong.”

Caitlin, Montgomery Student

“I wanted to do something with my life that would make both my children and my mother proud.”

Jasmine, Spartanburg Student

“Over the years I went to two different schools, and as I was there I knew they weren't for me. I walked into Virginia College and the first impression I got was, 'Wow, I finally found my school.'”

Elizabeth, Chattanooga Student