Glenwood Springs High alumna awarded prestigious culinary scholarship

Recent Glenwood Springs High graduate, Cynthia Jimenez, speaks during Youthentity's 2023 Pig Roast Fundraiser on Aug. 5.

Rising culinary star Cynthia Jimenez, a recent graduate of Glenwood Springs High School, was awarded one of the coveted 12 $20,000 scholarships from the esteemed James Beard Foundation.

Jimenez’s distinction, particularly as a high school student, is noteworthy given the breadth and caliber of the competition. 

“It’s not just students that apply. There are professionals, doctoral candidates, people going after their master’s degrees applying for this scholarship,” Youthentity’ Career Academy Program Director Greg Beachey said. “For a high school student to win this award is an incredible accomplishment, and it only speaks to the great person and student that Cynthia is.”

The James Beard Foundation, known for fostering a community where food culture thrives, has awarded the National Scholars Program since 2016. Awardees, selected from 12 different geographic regions, are chosen based on academic merit and outstanding personal and professional recommendations. Each recipient receives a significant $20,000 toward their food-focused education. 

The foundation’s namesake, James Beard, once dubbed the “Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times, spearheaded the movement that set America as a gastronomic leader.

Post-graduation, Jimenez transitioned from Colorado to Rhode Island to delve into her culinary pursuits at Johnson and Wales University. Her journey to higher education and culinary mastery was paved through two dedicated years in Youthentity’s Career Academy program. 

Youthentity has been a beacon for first-generation college students, offering pathways in diverse sectors such as construction, culinary arts, animal care and health care.

Reflecting on her accomplishments and the program’s influence, Jimenez expressed her gratitude. 

“I don’t think I would be where I am today without the Youthentity program,” she said. “They played a huge part in helping me with everything I needed for college.”

The transition from her close-knit community to university life has been both exhilarating and daunting. 

“I have always had that support system by my side and now I am across the country. It’s nerve racking but I am so excited for this new chapter in my life,” Jimenez said.

Her passion for cooking was further ignited during the pandemic’s challenging times. 

“During the pandemic we were stuck at home,” she explained. “I would just look for ingredients throughout my house and try to make something out of nothing.”

Beyond her skills, Jimenez’s journey is emblematic of the dreams many immigrant families hold for their children in the United States. As a first-generation student, she embodies resilience and determination. 

“My parents made a huge sacrifice moving to the United States and this is exactly what they wanted for me,” Jimenez said. “I’m proud to be setting a good example for my siblings and living out the dreams my mom had for me.”

Jimenez began her first day of classes at Johnson and Wales University on Monday.

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