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Released April 28, 2005


HATTIESBURG Perseverance is a word which comes to mind when Cytonia Richardson enters a kitchen. Richardson, 22, will graduate April 28 from The University of Southern Mississippi’s Culinary Arts Academy. She cannot wait to start her career in the culinary field.

“I already have a job at Boomtown Casino working in the buffet as a hostess, but after 90 days, I’ll be able to transfer into the kitchen to prepare food.”

She graduated from Gautier High School in 2000 and began community college to become an elementary education teacher, but life took a different turn for her. After being in college for three semesters, she found out she was pregnant and is now a single mother of two children – a boy and a girl.

“They’re sweet kids and really active like most kids. They encourage me to want more for my life,” Richardson said.

Richardson started the culinary program in September because she wanted to attend school and make a better life for her family. She chose the culinary field because she enjoys cooking and having a release for everyday life difficulties.

She chose the program at Southern Miss for its location, flexibility and straightforwardness. The program has encompassed every piece of the culinary experience, not just cooking. She has also learned how to be a butcher, decorator, hostess and baker. Richardson said her experience with the program and instructors has been a blessing to her.

“I think it’s a good program. It is really hard to find a culinary academy; there is not one in Jackson County at all. When I started the program and throughout, Chef Pam (Lewis) has been like a mother to me. Every time I have needed something or someone to talk to, she has been there and listened and encouraged me.”

Richardson has fulfilled her lifelong dream of pursuing a culinary career and graduation will put her one step closer to her dream.

“I love to cook,” Richardson said. “I cook stuff at home and I have nobody to really cook for. I went into culinary to cook for someone. ”


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May 16, 2005 4:10 PM