Shreja Patel, a La Plata High School junior, has been named the 2022-2023 ProStart Student of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) Education Foundation. Patel was recognized for her dedication to the ProStart Food and Beverage Management class, where she has learned the ins and outs of the restaurant and hospitality business, from food preparation and sanitation to marketing, accounting, and customer service.

Patel decided to join the career and technical education (CTE) path to get a head start on her career goals, which include opening a restaurant in the future. Mary Winkler’s ProStart Food and Beverage Management class at La Plata has helped Patel gain valuable experience and skills that can help her sidestep entry-level positions in the restaurant industry, allowing her to earn higher wages.

Winkler praised Patel’s positive attitude and work ethic, noting that she often helps out in the classroom even when she is not required to do so. The class at La Plata has even started a catering business, using the skills they have learned in ProStart to prepare food and desserts for school system and community events. The money collected from the service goes toward the purchase of equipment and supplies for the class.

Patel will be recognized by the RAM Education Foundation during its awards gala on Sunday, March 26. Lorna Browne, Ph.D., culinary science and food and nutrition technology teacher at Howard High School, was named the 2022-2023 ProStart Teacher of the Year recipient.

“To be able to identify an educator and scholar that has been noticed by not only their peers in the building, but their community, is a privilege,” said Olivia Abeedeen, education and apprenticeship coordinator for RAM. “We’re all still recovering from Covid, so any opportunity we get to show that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, we take it.”

The ProStart program has helped many students gain valuable experience and skills that can lead to successful careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry. The program is offered in high schools across the country and is supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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