Raymond Aguilera

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Since arriving at Victory Trade School (VTS) in August 2013, Raymond Aguilera (Ray) has been bringing creativity to the kitchen, leadership to the student body and the light of God’s love everywhere he goes.

At age 7, Ray entered the foster care system in the projects of

Los Angeles, California. When he aged out of foster care, he did his best to create a stable life, but the cycle of hopelessness was hard to overcome and he found himself high on drugs and sleeping under a bridge. One day his life literally flashed before his eyes and he heard what he now recognizes as the voice of the Lord say to him, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” This led him to the Los Angeles Dream Center where he met Jesus and discovered his love for cooking. He transitioned to the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission where he spent all of his free time experimenting in the kitchen and began to dream of owning his own restaurant. Ray’s love for cooking prompted the Mission’s staff to encourage him to apply to VTS.

From the beginning, the VTS culinary staff recognized that Ray is a creative student who thinks outside the box, and they have endeavored to help him refine his creativity with a solid foundation of culinary knowledge. His favorite learning laboratory rotations have been the grill and bakery because both enabled him to design unique menu items. Ray has consistently volunteered for community service and catering events and has appreciated the opportunity to be stretched creatively, while gaining experience working under the pressure of deadlines.

VTS offers seven nationally recognized certification courses sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF). Ray’s preferred NRAEF course has been Hospitality & Restaurant Marketing, which exposed him to the practical ways other businesses run and helped him strengthen his own future business plan. Ray says, “VTS provides a positive environment for new experiences, growth and leadership for anyone who loves cooking. I’m truly blessed to be part of this school and to experience these opportunities to grow.”

Ray’s immediate plans are to work as a chef in the culinary industry and then to model his own catering business after VTS. He’s the kind of chef VTS aspires to produce. He has a true passion for cooking, in addition to the character and leadership qualities necessary to impact the community in positive ways. Ray embodies VTS’ vision of “transformed lives impacting the community by education through social enterprise.” And the school is confident he’ll shine wherever he goes!

You can help aspiring chefs like Ray impact their communities. To invest in the success of a future chef, please select the option “use my gift for Victory Trade School” on your reply form or go to www.victorytradeschool.edu/donate.

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