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Culinary Dreams Turned Reality: Dafne Chavez Yanez's Inspiring Journey with JMG

Dafne Chavez Yanez, a determined and ambitious Jobs for Michigan's Graduates (JMG) alumna from Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center (CTC), has emerged as a shining example of success in the culinary arts. As we celebrate National Culinary Arts Month throughout July, Dafne's journey serves as an inspiration to all aspiring chefs and culinary enthusiasts.

Dafne's story began in her childhood days in Florida, where she experienced the joy of selling street food alongside her family. This vibrant and flavorful environment fostered a deep passion within her, creating a sense of togetherness and home that she yearned to share with others. Tacos, rice and beans, tamales, street corn—these culinary delights were the foundation of her love for food and the starting point of her culinary journey.

As a migrant child, Dafne's summers were spent in Michigan, picking crops through apple season. It was a bittersweet routine, saying goodbye to Michigan each year and returning to Florida. However, in 2015, her family made the decision to stay in Michigan year-round, bringing stability to their lives. Then, about two years ago in 2021, her family decided to relocate to North Carolina. Driven by her determination to pursue a career in the culinary arts, Dafne chose to remain in Michigan and live with a host family while continuing her education at Wexford-Missaukee CTC's culinary arts program.

Despite her love for cooking, Dafne initially lacked the necessary experience and knowledge needed to pursue a career in the culinary arts. It was through the JMG program that she found the support and guidance she needed to turn her dreams into reality. Throughout her two-year journey with JMG, Dafne gained essential skills to help her prepare for college and navigate the professional world. JMG played a pivotal role by assisting her in resume building, enhancing communication and networking skills, and preparing her for interviews and what to expect in the future. In addition, the JMG program not only helped her explore career options, but also ignited her interest in the culinary arts program at Northern Michigan College (NMC) through a guided tour.

With the unwavering support of her JMG specialist, Kim Benz, Dafne successfully completed her application and was awarded a $1000 JMG scholarship. Now, she eagerly anticipates attending NMC in the fall to pursue her passion, using the scholarship funds to ease the financial burden.

As a first-generation college student, Dafne embodies the spirit of perseverance and determination. Her commitment to her craft is fueled by a desire to honor her roots and bring joy to others through her creations. She aspires to own her own Mexican/Asian fusion restaurant someday, but she recognizes the importance of starting small and learning from others. Dafne plans to embark on her culinary journey by owning a food truck, using it as a stepping stone towards her ultimate goal.

We are proud to have Dafne as a member of our Youth Solutions/JMG Alumni Network and look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes in the future. Congratulations, Dafne, on your achievements and for representing JMG so well during Culinary Arts Month.

Learn more about our incredible youth by visiting our website.


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