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Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Culinary Arts student, Two female student in culinary arts classroom listening to instrutorKelsea Leigh Wilson, was recently named the Kentucky Restaurant Association (KRA) Culinary Student of the Year at the eighth annual KRA Restaurateur s Gala at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville on January 19th, an event supported by Heartland Payment Systems. The black-tie affair is intended to honor the association s directors and to recognize outstanding work of association members and their achievements.

Each year, KRA recognizes the Student of the Year based on their academic achievement, work history, community and civic organization involvement, and professional accomplishments.

Students are nominated by their college faculty, peers and members of the community for this prestigious award. This award allows instructors the opportunity to reward a culinary student who has shown the potential for becoming an exceptional chef or restaurateur in the hospitality industry.

To me, the award validates all the time and effort I have given not only as a Culinary student at SKYCTC, but also as a citizen and volunteer in my community, Kelsea said.

It has always been important to Kelsea to give back to her community. She has worked with local animal shelters, food drives, youth organizations and other events since she was very young. I was taught that the more you do for others, the better things will be for you, said Kelsea.

Her two loves in life have always been basketball and all things culinary.

My grandmothers, of course, were great cooks, and I was always comfortable in the kitchen. I began taking orders from people to make dishes and baked goods when I was about sixteen, she said.

Kelsea began SKYCTC right out of Grayson County High School in 2012 and started in the Culinary program her third semester.

I couldn't have made a better choice. The culinary program at SKYCTC is second to none. The chef instructors are the best. My fellow students have become my second family. We have all gone through the program together and have developed a bond that will last a lifetime. That's truly special, Kelsea explained.

"You nominate someone you believe is an outstanding student. So when they win, you're excited for them, but not surprised because you see every day how good she is in the classroom," says Chef Mike Riggs, Program Coordinator of the Culinary Program at SKYCTC.