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Class 128 Graduation: The Mighty Seven

Graduates from Culinary Job Training Class 128 embrace after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at THEARC.

On Wednesday, April 13th, following 3 months of hard work, perseverance, and commitment, DC Central Kitchen’s latest graduates received an exceptional round of applause as they crossed the stage at THEARC’s Black Box Theater in Ward 8 to receive their diplomas from our Culinary Job Training (CJT) program. These 7 resilient students make up CJT Class 128, a class that DCCK Culinary Services Manager Chef James Bacchues deemed, “huge in stature and heart.” 

After rounding out their coursework in self-empowerment, employment skills, and culinary skills, this class of stature and heart completed both an internship at a DCCK social enterprise and an externship with a partner organization. The intentional structure of the CJT program led to tremendous results with each graduate choosing to either launch their own business or securing employment with DCCK, City Cruises, or Central Union Mission by the end of the process. 

Our 7 graduates had to invoke their belief in themselves and remember their “why.” As DCCK COO Andy Finke reminded our graduates in his closing remarks, “Today is a why. Your hard work and everything you’ve done to be here is the why.” 

To follow their “why,” and persist through a rigorous, full-time training experience, Class 128 chose to follow our CJT mantra and “trust the process.” Class Representative Darion P. touched on this transformative mantra, underscoring the power of submission as a vital step in trusting the process, “you have the power to choose what you submit to, and you can find the empowering aspect of submission. It is not defeat. It is the beginning of something.” 

The beginning of something requires the faith to show up for yourself every day without knowing the outcome, which, as our CJT graduates prove repeatedly, is the first step toward creating a brighter future. As a testament to this brighter future, Class 121 graduate and current Production Manager of our Nutrition Lab Ebony James recounted her journey of submission from overwhelmed CJT student to empowered DCCK manager, reminding our graduates that “Anything that you speak, you can do. Anything that you put your mind to, you can do.”  

Through their hopeful outlooks and dedication to the process, Class 128 proved they can indeed do anything they commit their minds to, while empowering others and serving members of our community along the way.

As GOODprojects co-founder and DCCK board member Darius Baxter emphasized in his Keynote speech, “DC Central Kitchen has set a standard in this region for what it means to be of service, and you all as graduates have the chance to take that opportunity for excellence out into the world.” 

Our students demonstrated that sense of excellence with the work they completed during our CJT program, and they will continue to do so during the next phase of their lives. With each graduate already finding a full-time job or starting their own business, we are certain that this small, but mighty class of stature and heart will enhance our city and inspire us all to follow our “why” toward creating a better and more just world.

The full gallery of photos can be found on our Flickr.