An Evening of Firsts

Graduates: Dena Horne, Barbara Lee McDonald, Andrea L. Tomlinson

It was an evening of “firsts” that made for a very special graduation for the Culinary Institute of Virginia. On June 24, 180 students graduated in a ceremony at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. It was the largest class to date and 50 percent larger than the class of 2010.

The evening also marked the first graduates of the school’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Food Service Management.

Graduates: Grant Loy, Donald Lee, Ryan Travis

One of those graduates was Yanina Yearwood, who originally graduated from CIV in Culinary Arts in 2009, and was the first to enroll and graduate from the Bachelor’s program. Yanina told guests of the ceremony how she had once told her son she wanted to be a chef when he asked her “what do you want to be when you grow up mom?” She pursued her dream and education while working full-time in the United States Navy and raising her son. Two years ago she opened her own personal chef and catering business, Younique Treats, LLC, which has grown more than sixty percent over the last year. “CIV gave me the confidence and skills,” said Yanina in her graduate remarks about starting her own business.

Behind the scenes food preparation at CIV graduation

Graduates also spent the week prior preparing food for their own graduation event. Working out of 11 kitchens, they prepared everything from roast turkeys to salmon salad for more than 1,700 guests and students. “What a better way to teach and model what the business is about than by catering your own event,” said Stephen Perkins, Culinary Institute of Virginia instructor.

Student volunteer, Robert Swann and Steve Nahra of CIV’s Career Services prepare for the after-ceremony celebration