For graduate Clarissa Haglid, The Culinary School was the second chance she needed and her first opportunity to celebrate a graduation. “My experience at the Food Bank of Delaware has been a lifeline for me, being back in society,” she said. “It’s helped my mental health, helped me regain confidence. I still have something to offer, and I’m able to reach people. I have support.”
Currently employed at two hotels in Newark, Clarissa is the first HOPES graduate in the country (Hospitality Opportunities for People (re)Entering Society) to be enroll in a US Dept of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program. She has transitioned from a correctional facility to full-time employment on a path to earning Line Cook journeyperson papers. Her future goals? To showcase the skills and training she has acquired and use her story as a catalyst for change. “I really hope to be give a Ted Talk one day,” Clarissa states. Through speaking engagements, she hopes to reach out to others facing similar challenges, letting them know that opportunities do exist, and that they too can embrace a new beginning.
Clarissa’s interest in cooking began with the birth of her first son. She wanted a more holistic pregnancy, to cook everything from scratch. Not classically trained, she turned to TV and Rachel Ray for inspiration and recipes. She excelled quickly and was proud to serve gourmet meals to her family and dinner guests, complete with foie gras and truffles.
Coming full circle and completing culinary training at the Food Bank post-incarceration has brought her back to her love of the culinary arts. She cautions other women to try not to get stuck in the “role” of motherhood and caregiver to others. “It’s all too easy to lose yourself in being a mom, a wife. You forget who you were before, what your talents and interests are. You can lose your shine. And it can lead you down a dark path. But you have to remember your dreams and aspirations – you can be bigger. The whole world is open to you!”
In a world where second chances are often elusive, Clarissa’s story shines as a testament to the transformative power of education and opportunity. Today, she stands as a symbol of inspiration, having overcome her past as she embraces her Apprenticeship training and pursing her dreams. As Clarissa continues to forge ahead, she shines a light on the importance of empowering individuals through education – she cherishes her connections and is helping others to recognize their potential and seek positive change in their lives.
Recipe for Clarissa’s “Flaming Inspiration”
- 2 lbs life experience
- 1 box of support
- 3 cups self confidence
- 5 cups transformation
- 6 ½ cups decisions
- 1 bushel of practice
- 4 T. charm
- ¾ cup of milk (because sometimes you have to “milk” a few things!)
- 6 sprigs of openability (my word!)
- 3 lbs of humility
- 2 quarts of learning
- 3 T. walk-away (sometimes you have to get away – not all opportunities are good opportunities!
- 5 cups of authority