Anyone who is familiar with Second Helpings’ Culinary Job Training program knows how special graduation days can be. After seven, intense weeks, the students have much to celebrate. After inspiring remarks from commencement speaker Shannon Williams of Indianapolis Recorder, awards from the culinary instructors, the distribution of of toques and diplomas, students were invited to share personal remarks about their time in class, obstacles overcome, and their hopes and dreams for the future. It’s always a humbling, impactful moment.
While every Second Helpings graduation is special in its own right, Class 103’s graduation on Friday proved especially memorable thanks to a moment provided by graduate Amos Whiteside. Whiteside was the last student to offer his remarks. He began as many students do, “I just want to thank everybody at Second Helpings for putting up with me, and helping me to better myself and my cooking skills,” he said. “…This is the first thing I’ve ever completed that I started. I’m really proud of myself. I just want to thank my classmates. I love y’all.”
And then a twist…
“I have a special thanks for a special person – my best friend,” Whiteside said. “She has helped me to change things. My life was a wreck for a few years, and she helped me to change my ways and everything. I want to thank my best friend Rachel.”
Whiteside invited his girlfriend and fellow Second Helpings graduate from class 102, Rachel Williams to the front of the room. He handed her a bouquet of flowers, and asked her to read from a cake, which Second Helpings’ Director of Programs Nora Spitznogle had wheeled out from the Hunger Relief Kitchen. “It says, will you marry me?” Williams read, fighting back tears.
“She said yes!” Whiteside said above raucous cheers from those in attendance.
And with that, another Second Helpings first was sealed – a graduation engagement. With bleary eyes, graduates and their loved ones enjoyed hors d’oeuvres prepared by the graduating class before embarking upon a future filled with more promise than when the students entered this program seven weeks earlier. Watch the full Facebook Live video for a recap of the ceremony in its entirety.