Jodi Werner, L’Ecole in St. Louis, Missouri

My experience at L’Ecole Culinaire was so life-changing for me. Before I enrolled, I was agoraphobic; I was reluctant to go out in public for fear of being judged wherever I went. I even dropped out of high school because of my condition and depression set in once I realized that this would prevent me from leading a normal life and pursuing an education like the rest of my peers. My mother was the person who convinced me to inquire about a degree in culinary arts because of my life-long love for food and cooking.

It took a lot of nerve on my part, but eventually I toured L’Ecole’s facilities. Seeing the other students and knowing that they too were passionate about cooking made me feel more comfortable. After I started school, it wasn’t long before I felt a great sense of camaraderie among my fellow classmates. Not only did I feel comfortable around the people at L’Ecole, I also felt comfortable with myself for the first time in my life. I had finally found something that I could excel at! I went from a high school dropout to an over-achieving, A+ student.

In the spring of 2008, I graduated at the top of my class. I also did something that I never could have done without my experience at L’Ecole. I stood up before hundreds of people and gave my class’s graduation speech. My agoraphobia is nothing more than a memory since attending L’Ecole. I gained enduring friendships, a ton of knowledge and enough confidence to last a lifetime.

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