Culinary Arts student awarded $5,000 scholarship

September 12, 2013 4:35 PM

A Laney College culinary student has been awarded an amazing opportunity in the form of a $5,000 transfer scholarship.

Shana Waqia was awarded the scholarship on Aug. 15 by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation (GGRASF). She is one of the several students who receive a scholarship from the GGRASF each year.

Waqia, who is wrapping up her last semester at Laney, is elated and honored to receive the scholarship.

“I’m still in awe at how far I’ve come,” she said, “It hasn’t really quite hit me.”

The scholarship marks only one of several academic achievements by Waqia.  She was awarded the Dean’s Medallion in April, won gold with her group in the Junior Culinary Competition in February, and her team took silver in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs western regional competition. But, she says, her list of achievements won’t stop there.

“I want to keep going; I want to reach that top plateau.”

GGRASF scholarship winner Shana Waqia and chef David Jones at the Laney Bistro.

GGRASF scholarship winner Shana Waqia and chef David Jones at the Laney Bistro.

Waqia is also a member of the American Culinary Federation and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs (an international gastronomy association).

Although accomplished both academically and in culinary arts, Waqia remains humble.

“Because I’m doing what I love, I don’t look at it as I’m achieving anything.  Because I love it so much, I’m just doing it,” she said.

California State University, East Bay is Waqia’s school of choice.  She has already applied for CSU’s spring semester and plans to use her scholarship money there, unless an even better opportunity arises.

“If a job comes up, I would like to take advantage of that, because, when they say ‘starving student,’ they really mean that,” she said.

Though she may not take advantage of the $5,000, Waqia doesn’t want to seem ungracious.

“I don’t want to minimize the scholarship.  But again, I did let them know that…I was basically finishing up general ed. and intend on transferring.  They were OK with that.”

In addition to her excitement over the scholarship, Waqia is grateful to those who assisted her in reaching her goals.  Waqia expressed her appreciation toward GGRASF for awarding her the scholarship.

The foundation is a non-profit corporation that awards scholarships to students wishing to further their education in culinary hospitality programs.   The trustees of GGRASF have been awarding scholarships yearly since 1968, and any culinary arts student can apply for one.

This year, GGRASF awarded $34,500 to seven local students, and also gave $3,500 to San Francisco Unified School District’s Career Technical Education Department to provide assistance to student interns in San Francisco.

Waqia was also effusive toward professor and Chef David Jones, a culinary arts instructor at Laney College.  According to Waqia, Jones has been monumental in the development of her skills.

“He’s sort of my mentor,” Waqia said of Jones “He opened the door to me finding out my passion and just let me run with it.”

A former cook at the Laney Bistro, Waqia now works as a personal chef at Sienna House in Oakland.

When people ask what her favorite dish to prepare is, Waqia just smiles and says, “I just tell them food.  You can’t categorize food.”

The deadline for GGRASF applications is April 30 of each year. The foundation trustees review the applications in May and conduct interviews in June to determine the winners of the scholarship.

For more information on the scholarship, students can contact Donnalyn Murphy at donnalyn@ggra.org or visit the GGRASF web page at www.ggra.org.

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