Graduation is always a hard thing for both students and staff. The students have grown to love the people they work and learn with, as well as the staff members that guide them through our program. We have a difficult time because often we get connected to the students in much the same fashion; we end up resembling a family. The truth of the matter is that when a group finishes the program and is off to conquer the world, we still have students in the program to work with and a new group is starting and we have to move on. We stay in touch with alumni but it is different when they come back to see us. Often times it has been months, sometimes years before we actually see them again.
Adam, an alumni from 2 years ago came back to see us and what a transformation! For starters, he looked fantastic! It is very parental sounding, but he had grown up! He had come by to say hello and check in with us. He wanted to borrow a chef coat with our logo on it as he is doing some catering work and wanted to promote us. It was hard to argue with that kind of thinking. He was also tired, as he puts in lots of hours at work. Personally, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing a former student after a shift and they are spent from all the hours they just put in. One of his roles at the 36th Street Bistro is to teach the new employees how things are prepared to their standards. Imagine that, the student has become the teacher!
The other great thing is when they bring family along. His mother came with him, and before me stood a woman who was extremely proud of her son. She went on and on about how excited she was about the change in her son; walking tall, confident but not cocky, a heightened sense of responsibility, and ethics. She thanked us for helping create change in her son. I told her we were happy to help, but her son was one to thank. He chose to make the changes, and to embrace the opportunities presented to him.
It’s nice to see someone come back once in a while to show off a little and just to say thank you.