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The Voice of the Black Community


Thanksgiving dinner mixes with academics
Livingstone College offers hospitality curriculum
Published Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:12 am
by Laurie D. Willis, For The Charlotte Post

SALISBURY – Livingstone College is serving more than Thanksgiving dinner to 25 area families on Nov. 20.
It’s providing career opportunities.

The Thanksgiving meal, being served from 5-7 p.m. at the college’s Events & Hospitality Center and prepared by students enrolled in Livingstone’s new Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts program, is being provided by Livingstone staff, faculty and students, who’ve signed up to bring everything from turkeys to cranberry sauce. 

The families will be sent home with prepared meals they’ll simply have to re-heat, and two individuals will win tuition-free enrollment in Livingstone’s one-year culinary arts certificate program with the promise of a job at an affiliated area restaurant or hotel upon completion of the curriculum.

“It’s commonplace for institutions of higher learning, businesses, groups, organizations and even individuals to provide Thanksgiving meals for people this time of the year,” Jenkins said, “but in addition to that we’re offering two people the chance to enroll in our culinary arts certificate program and to ultimately obtain employment at an area restaurant or hotel.”

Recipients of tuition-free enrollment into the culinary arts program will be chosen from applicants who submit essays detailing what the scholarship will mean for them and their families. The names of guests who will attend the college’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza are being provided by the Rowan County Department of Social Services, which is collaborating with Livingstone. 

“The other beautiful thing about our Thanksgiving Extravaganza is it represents a total college effort,” Jenkins said. “Instead of simply writing a check and having the food catered, I’ve asked my staff, faculty and students to provide the food and even serve our guests, and believe me when I tell you they have graciously stepped up to the plate, no pun intended.”

Vivian Ray, who runs Livingstone’s Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts program, said she’s excited about the Thanksgiving Extravaganza because it will afford Livingstone students enrolled in the program the chance to showcase their culinary skills while simultaneously providing the public with an understanding of the program the college now offers.

Through the Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Program, which has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, an associate’s in culinary arts or certificates in culinary arts, event planning or lodging operations.

Ray, who has more than 25 years experience in the food service industry, has been a professor in the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management and Purdue University’s Hospitality Management Program. The hospitality management programs at UCF and Purdue are widely considered among the nation’s best.

She has worked as an executive chef for many organizations, including the Howard Johnson hotel chain, food service director for Sodexo Inc., the leading provider of integrated food and facilities management services in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and catering director for the New Orleans Country Club. Ray revamped a struggling culinary arts program at Indiana Vocational Technical College in Indianapolis in the 1990s, transforming it into an internationally acclaimed program. During her six years at Indiana Vocational, she was instrumental in adding an annual student trip to La Varenne Cooking School in Paris.


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