The Sylvia Center’s Teen Culinary Apprenticeship (TCA) teaches 16-18-year-olds to become peer advocates for health, explores food justice and food science topics, and provides professional development opportunities.
As a 2021 TCA alumni and the 2022 Future Community Leader Award award recipient, Kesar Gaba shares her story of how cooking goes beyond the kitchen.
“The apprenticeship really taught me to not be insecure about food and wear my confidence on my sleeve. I developed a healthy relationship with food and I hope that I can make this difference in the world itself,” says Kesar.
Kesar is currently pursuing Psychology as a first-generation freshman student at Queens College. She chose to study psychology because she is passionate about mental health. Kesar aspires to be a psychologist and help people overcome their fears and insecurities. She wants to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for people to navigate their feelings and emotions.
Participating in The Sylvia Center program opened a new door for Kesar. She was interested in exploring cooking and when she joined TCA, she was amazed at the variety of food options and healthy ways to make food.
“I became passionate about cooking especially when I would get to see my family have that first reaction on their face when they take that first bite,” says Kesar, because sharing food together is a powerful experience.
Her passion for cooking grew and Kesar learned how a recipe is beyond cooking instructions, but something you can experiment with and make your own.
Supporting youth-led change means youth have agency in decision-making in the kitchen and beyond. Donate to our programs today to support a healthy, brighter future for our young people.
The Future Community Award Leader scholarship is available for Teen Culinary Apprenticeship students who have demonstrated overall growth, community service, and leadership. An award recipient receives a $5,000 academic scholarship from Divina. Divina is a producer and importer of Mediterranean foods, specializing in olive and antipasti. Divina is a longtime sponsor of The Sylvia Center and an active member in many organizations that help educate, nourish and aid communities both large and small.