Carmaleta Gilmore (Scholarship Recipient)

Carmaleta Gilmore

First, Carmaleta Gilmore was laid off from her job as an assistant office manager. Then she entered the uncertain state of not knowing what would come next. Now, with the help of Kansas City’s Full Employment Council and a scholarship through the JCCC Foundation, she thinks she’s found her niche as a student in the college’s culinary and hospitality management program.

“It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life to be here at this school,” Gilmore said. “There are so many opportunities.”

Gilmore began taking hospitality management classes in the summer of 2009 and entered the pastry/bakery certificate program last fall. She hopes to complete the certificate program this spring.

“She’s kind of a sponge soaking up everything,” said Doug Flick, a professor of hospitality management who oversees the certificate program. “She’s a very, very good student. If we had 500 more like her, it would be great.”

Gilmore said she applied for scholarship assistance when she applied to be in the hospitality management program. She received a scholarship worth $400 from the Overland Park Convention Center. The money helps, she said.

“I didn’t feel like I would qualify for anything,” Gilmore said. “I’m an older person and I thought the younger people would have more need and get more help, but the scholarships are for everyone.”

When the economy crashed in fall 2009, the janitorial company that Gilmore worked for downsized and eliminated her job. The Full Employment Council provided federal stimulus money for training, and Gilmore decided to apply to the college’s hospitality program.

While growing up in her family, she said, “Our house was always a way station for friends and family. I didn’t care if it was 3 in the morning, I wanted to feed them a five-course dinner. So I came to the realization that I’ve always been in the hospitality area.”

Gilmore said her instructors are wonderful educators.

“They are just down-to-earth people but they know their stuff,” she said.

Gilmore said she feels she has grown personally and professionally through the hospitality program. She’s expanded her network of contacts by volunteering for events through the program’s club for students, she said, and by attending a restaurant association convention in Chicago.

Gilmore said she sat next to JCCC board trustee Jerry Cook at a dinner this fall honoring scholarship winners. Cook is president of the Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau and he attended as a representative of the industry and of the college.

Students in the hospitality program can apply for more than a dozen scholarships that are administered through the JCCC Foundation. The Foundation also administers scholarships for other programs of study. Students who are interested can get more information from the Foundation or their academic department.