By Hunter Lacey
From 18 to 41, Edgard Sanchez was dedicated to the U.S. Armed Forces. He spent four years as a Marine, 17 years serving in the Army, and a few more years in Afghanistan in the supply and logistics field.
But Sanchez knew the day would come when he would retire from serving and move on to another career field. One day, he received a mailing about Kennesaw State University.
“The story in there was about a veteran who went through the culinary program and loved it,” Sanchez said.
He had not planned to go back to school, but was hungry for new opportunities. Sanchez used KSU’s VA Education Benefits program to overcome a problem that is common among veterans: His experience didn’t match his resume and he lacked the education to move forward in a non-military career.
“I knew [this program] would open another avenue for me, and it would lead to something that would benefit me,” he said.
He graduated from the culinary apprenticeship program and planned in November to open an Atlanta-based food truck, C’est Tout Bon 2 Eat, serving New Orleans-inspired cuisine.
The culinary apprenticeship program is one of 30 offerings by KSU’s VA Education Benefits program, which allows Post 9/11 veterans to use their GI Bill. The program offers certificates in fields such as project management, social media marketing, real estate, information systems and English as a Second Language. Classes on campus also focus on health care topics and technology, including Microsoft Office and Android app development.
“We’re constantly trying to develop new programs and see where the market is providing new positions,” said Nora Felde, military liaison for KSU’s College of Continuing and Professional Education.
In addition, the school’s MyCAA (Career Advancement Account) program provides military spouses up to $4,000 in funding for continued education. MyCAA works with campus and online certificate programs.
Through the culinary program, Sanchez took advantage of two apprenticeships at the esteemed Park 75, located at Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown Atlanta, and Elevation and Chophouse in Kennesaw. Sanchez was required to complete around 420 hours of apprenticeships in addition to classroom learning.
“When I signed up, I didn’t realize it was going to be that intensive,” Sanchez said. “But looking back, it was something more enjoyable than work.”
Sanchez quickly began applying the skills to launch his business.
“I’m from New Orleans, so I’ll be serving up po’ boys, gourmet hamburgers and grilled cheeses with a Cajun twist,” Sanchez said. “Every day in class, I learned something new, and now I’m going to take my skills and have my grand opening.”
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