Culinary Arts, BirminghamJay


“I just moved to Birmingham and I didn’t like the job that I got. I wasn’t happy. So after I quit, I was looking for something to do and thought that I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant or work in the field in some way. I thought that this nine-month program would fit perfectly with my timeframe here in Birmingham.

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I am married and she’s in school. She’s in a one-year program and I had a job for, like, two months and then I quit that and was looking for another job — I actually turned down a pretty good job in order to come here.

I have a four-year business degree. But going to school when you’re 22…I am in my 30s now, that part has been a little insane. It’s a good, fun, laid-back environment. It wasn’t hard to adjust.

“My wife is my biggest supporter, she’s amazing.”

Owning a restaurant is the long-term goal. I don’t know what kind yet because I don’t know where we’re moving. I am trying to gain as much knowledge about all the different aspects so when I end up where I end up, I can look at what that market needs and then create a business plan based on those needs. Whether it ends up being a bake shop or a French restaurant, or a steak house. I’m going to make it work, wherever I end up. Once I get an idea of what the community needs.

I make a good salmon, but I don’t have anything particular that I am known for yet. I have made several other things that I made here for my wife and my family. I bring home good food. So that’s a nice motivation for the both of us. I don’t normally eat all of the bread and cakes and pastries and stuff. So that’s changed. My wife’s real happy about it. All these pastries and cakes and pies and stuff.

My wife is my biggest supporter, she’s amazing.”

We’re in this togetherRead More of Our Stories

Erica, Columbus“Seeing myself in a cap and gown is the main goal and nothing will get in my way!”

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Calvin, Birmingham“I’ve been out of high school for 36 years.”

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John, Birmingham“HVAC-R is what I’ve done all my life.”

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

“I didn't choose cosmetology, it chose me!”

Kumesia, Jacksonville 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

“One of my greatest dreams has been to make a difference in people's lives and to work with computers. I am currently working with computers in the best job I've had since entering the workforce 30 years ago.”

Gene, Biloxi Graduate

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

Eric, Jackson 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

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

Bonnie, Florence Student

“Despite any obstacles I face, if I truly want something I'm going to work my way there. I believe hard work pays off. I will achieve what I choose to accomplish in my life. I refuse to give up!”

Stephanie, Lubbock Student

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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 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

“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

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

Yesica, ChattanoogaGraduate

“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

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

Ryan, Charleston 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 wanted to do something with my life that would make both my children and my mother proud.”

Jasmine, Spartanburg Student

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

Tammy, Augusta 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 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

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

Christy, Richmond Student

“I thought it was so hard getting into school but Virginia College made it so easy for me. It made me feel empowered being back in school. ”

Amber, Online Student

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

Christine, Savannah Student

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

Kelly, Pensacola Instructor

“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

“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

“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’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 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 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 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 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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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 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

“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

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

Laura, Jacksonville Student

“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 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

“It’s never too late to go back and finish your degree!”

Almarina, Shreveport Graduate

“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

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

Allison, Columbus 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 love everything about cosmetology — hair, makeup, nails, everything!”

Camell, Columbia Student