NLRO Graduate, Dewyna Taylor, Ventures to Djibouti, Africa to Work in a Culinary Career at the Camp Lemonier U.S. Navy Base.

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in News & Events | Comments Off

Job Corps Student from New Orleans Will Share Culinary Skills in Africa

February 20th, 2014

Newettp:// KBR, a technology engineering procurement and construction company based in Houston, contacted Odle Management Group, the operator of New Orleans Job Corps Center, about employment opportunities at Camp Lemonier, a U.S. Navy base in Djibouti, Africa, Admissions Manager Andrea Lister had little doubt that Culinary Arts student Dewyna Taylor was up for the challenge and ready to seize the opportunity.

“Dewyna is very personable. She’s fearless,” Lister said. “When we said ‘Africa,’ she didn’t flinch. She really, from day one, viewed is as an exciting challenge and growth opportunity. ”

There were several reasons that Taylor was on Lister and Center Director Michael Fernandez’s radar screen when KBR came calling – great class attendance, and excellence in her trade of culinary arts. “She had fulfilled all of the Job Corps requirements and then, on top of that, she had a great attitude,” Lister said. “She had the perfect combination we were looking for. She never let the fear of the unknown keep her from taking advantage of this opportunity.”

Taylor was a diamond in the rough when she arrived at New Orleans Job Corps Center in 2012, Lister said. Taylor said she was raised by her paternal grandmother from the age of three months. Her grandmother encouraged to become involved in church functions and instilled in her a great sense of community and teamwork.

Staff members recall Taylor as someone with unlimited potential as she walked through the front door of the Admissions office two years ago, as well as for the nearly two years she spent at Job Corps preparing her for the job ahead as part of this opportunity. As a culinary arts graduate, she will be working alongside other staffers, assisting in the daily preparation of thousands of meals for troops on the military base in Djibouti.

As her departure date for Africa neared, there was so much to do and so few hours left to make it happen. There were uniforms to buy, doctor visits to make and friends and family to say goodbye to.

“The last few weeks For Dewyna were very hectic and challenging,” Lister said. “She seemed to be conserving her energy because she knew she was right on the verge of a major life change. You could see her becoming more and more focused. It was like watching someone preparing for a marathon.”

Lister gets emotional when she recalls the farewell luncheon for Taylor at a local restaurant. “We were encouraging her, telling her ‘Dewyna we are so proud of you. We knew that you were the right one to go over there and be the trailblazer. … Her instructor, Chef Victoria, gave her completion medal and a congratulatory hug. It was so awesome to see that.”

Center Director Michael Fernandez said, “Dewyna reminds all of us what can happen when someone enters the program with dedication, determination, and a strong desire to take full advantage of everything that Job Corps has to offer. She’s an ambassador for us now and has distinguished herself as an extraordinary young woman who has already made all of us very proud.”

Before boarding the plane, Taylor, beaming with a confident smile, said, “I’m going to be able to tell people I went to Africa. Now I can tell every future employer, ‘I’ve cooked in Africa.’ ”