ProStart Spotting in NASA
In the autumn of 2004, Daniel Adams began an unforgettable journey with his classmates as he prepared to compete in the first Maryland ProStart Student Invitational (MPSI) in 2005. Daniel went to the Howard County Applications & Research Lab for the hotel and restaurant management program. In that program he studied from the ProStart curriculum, a rigorous program designed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to train aspiring high school students on culinary arts and restaurant management. “I loved doing the ProStart program at the ARL. It was the highlight of my days and led to great experiences with the competitions and my internship”, Daniel recalls. In the culinary competition, Daniel along with four teammates prepared to cook a three-course meal in one hour using only two butane burners.
Being the first year of the competition, they could only guess as to what they could expect. All their hard work paid off when they won first place in the state of Maryland and proceeded to the National competition. “The team we had was like a family and it got everyone talking.” Since Daniel competed as a junior, he was able to return his senior year with the ARL team to win the 2006 MPSI and compete in Nationals again.
After graduating high school, Daniel attended the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute at Anne Arundel Community College to earn his Associates degree in Culinary Arts. After AACC, he went to Frostburg State University to earn a Bachelors degree in Business Management. Daniel explains, “I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with my career so I went and got a good taste through community college. With my Associates and my Bachelors, I was able to have both sides of the house so to speak.” When asked how his high school education prepared him for college, Daniel replied “My high school education really prepared me for everything. I discovered the importance of being diverse and wanted to allow myself schooling in both aspects of the industry while I was young.”
In a twist, after all that hospitality and culinary training Daniel does not currently work in the industry. After a rather competitive process, he was accepted as a co-op student for NASA while earning his business degree. The co-op experience not only led to NASA helping to pay for his Bachelor degree but resulted in him being hired after graduation. He currently works with NASA in the Procurement department. “It took a lot of skill and knowledge for me to obtain this position. I used the skills that I learned from ProStart to help me land the job. In the interview, I talked about my experience with the ARL and the awesome ProStart competitions.” The experiences and knowledge gained from ProStart definitely gave Daniel some unique bragging rights.
“ProStart was awesome! It was great to meet so many new people and gain respect from local chefs and people in the industry. I will always remember the fun trips and being able to cook and eat great food everyday. For the new generation of ProStart students, my advice is to move out of your comfort zone. You grow the most when you are willing to feel awkward or uncomfortable with new things. Push your limits and don’t be afraid to chase your goals.”