About our Graduates

Austin Agrafiotis

Austin Agrafiotis

Prior to coming to Sunflower’s Pastry Arts program, Austin would mostly be found playing basketball or watching sports. Lessons that Austin took from sports were teamwork and determination. Austin put his hard work and teamwork to the test while helping mix recipes during a very busy Rosh Hashanah. He is currently employed at Weis Markets.

Osemen Aigbedion

Osemen Aigbedion

Osemen gained her love of baking while making cornbread for her church. Once the word got out that her cornbread was the best around, a baker was born. As Osemen went through our program she developed confidence in her baking. She was often tasked with making multiple recipes a day, and with minimal supervision.

Jolie Band

Jolie Band

Jolie brought her artistic ability to find success in the Pastry Arts Program. She quickly became “The Brownie Queen”. From that point on, Jolie produced most of the brownies that Sunflower made. The “Brownie Queen” also used her bubbly personality to brighten the days of her classmates, chefs and customers alike. Now at Vie de France, she applies her newfound skills in both making delicious pastries and delighting her customers. Jolie began developing fine arts skills with her doll artistry and photography.

Alvaro Cervantes

Alvaro Cervantes

Alvaro has a strong work ethic. He has a positive attitude and willingness to take on new tasks. His favorite part of Sunflower was being a cashier and learning about the importance of cleaning. He enjoys taking boxing classes in his spare time. Alvaro continues to look for the right job opportunity.

Demba Cisse

Demba Cisse

Demba is hard-working and a human dynamo. When he entered our Pastry Arts Program, Demba could never have guessed that he would be solely responsible for the production of our hamentashen dough, a task that in normal circumstances is tough. For Purim 2021, we doubled our sales and he made all the dough for 52,000 hamentashen! We are so grateful for Demba’s perseverance.

Gary Copeland

Gary Copeland

Gary really enjoyed learning how to sell products to customers at Sunflower. He takes pride in making connections with customers and recommending products. In his spare time, Gary likes to play basketball and video games and has recently taken up archery. He continues to hone his employment skills at Cafe Sunflower while seeking a position in which he will thrive.

Ethan Edwards

Ethan Edwards

Ethan entered our program as a recent valedictorian from Damascus High School. From the time that he began Pastry Arts training, he instantly became a quick study. Ethan spent his time here working on braiding challah and expeditiously completing all the items on his assignment list. Ethan, now working at Woodmont Country Club, still flies through his prep list and consistently requests more work.

Catrina Hainer

Catrina Hainer

Catrina, a long-time Sunflower summer teen program attendee, has progressed to our Pastry Arts Program this year during which time she has worked very hard. With grit and determination, she has been especially helpful with piping cupcakes, shaping challah and packing. While at Sunflower, Catrina has been able to find her “kitchen voice”. She is excited about joining the workforce and starting her journey, while holding onto her dream of one day opening up a bakery of her own.

Kylie Huntington

Kylie Huntington

Kylie enjoyed ringing up customers on the Square point of sales. She likes Disney movies and musicals and this would often be the soundtrack she would listen to during her shifts at the Bakeshop. Outside of Sunflower, Kylie likes horses and is now in an internship program in a horse stable in Wheaton.

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly

Mike began his training in the Pastry Arts Program and we were quickly shut down due to COVID after two months. However, the break didn’t deter Mike as he came back with his big smile and eagerness to learn. Mike has a passion to succeed. Not missing a beat, Mike was able to build recipes and was a quick worker. Now working in food service at Shady Grove Medical Center, Mike is a reliable fixture in their kitchen.

Luis Neimand

Luis Neimand

Luis came to us hoping to gain a job in pastry arts. Right off the bat, Luis and his classmates were challenged with a HUGE Amazon order. They met the challenge successfully! Luis was able to perfect numerous recipes and techniques. Always asking to learn more, he was able to master most of what the chefs assigned to him. Luis never missed a day, during his whole time at Sunflower, an accomplishment not lost on the chefs.

Connor Pennanen

Connor Pennanen

Connor spent multiple summers in Sunflower’s Summer Teen Exposure Program until he was old enough to begin our formal Pastry Arts Training. Connor’s time with Sunflower was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but he persisted with determination, practicing at home with his job coach until mastering his skills. Connor’s ability to decorate cupcakes and arrange platters was especially important during Rosh Hashanah. He currently works for Praline Bakery in Fairfax, where he makes cookies and decorates cupcakes.

Michael Pesin

Michael Pesin

Michael has a warm and friendly personality. He is always eager to greet our Sunflower Bakeshop customers and ask how they are doing. He gets to know people and remembers many details they share. He would like to work in a French bakery or cafe’. Michael is also fluent in Russian!

Ellis Rogers

Ellis Rogers Archer

Ellis managed to complete his Associates in Science graphic design, while attending our Pastry Arts Program. During his time at Sunflower, Ellis was really put to the test during Purim, when he rolled many, many of the 52,000 hamentaschen. While Ellis still holds his dream of one day becoming an animator, He now he has a back- up plan of baking while he waits for his big break.

Cameron Shorter

Cameron Shorter

Cameron was a talented writer prior to coming to the Pastry Arts program. As it turned out, it was an easy transition from writing as an art form to pastry arts. Cameron was a natural; they were able to learn most bakery procedures with ease. Cameron is now taking the confidence they gained at Sunflower.

Ashley Thompson

Ashley Thompson

Already an accomplished kayaking gold medalist, Ashley brought her championship work ethic to Sunflower. While working in our Pastry Arts program, Ashley was able to showcase some of the skill-set that she has gained while at Wegmans. At Sunflower, Ashley enhanced her cupcake-decorating abilities and became proficient at creating our COVID19-friendly favor bags. Ashley brought not only a smile with her everyday, but also her can-do attitude.

Hana Tsegaye

Hana Tsegaye

Hana saw the Pastry Arts program as a way to fine-tune her pastry skills. Having already worked at Bob’s Cafe, she knew that this was something that she enjoyed doing. From the moment that Hana began training at Sunflower, she hit the ground running. She not only enjoyed making challah, but also worked with royal icing and all sorts of decorating. After completing the program and learning many new transferable skills, Hana was offered two jobs. She has now found a new home working with chocolate.

Andrew Tucker

Andrew Tucker

Andrew came to us with a passion for food that he developed at Thomas Edison High School of Technology. When he entered the Pastry Arts Program, he was ready to explore a new area of food production and worked tirelessly to develop pastry arts skills. Andrew spent countless hours practicing at home until he became proficient in rolling dough, scooping dough, and even took an interest in making our brownie lollipops, which is now exclusively his responsibility at Sunflower.

Jacob Van Houter

Jacob Van Houter

Prior to entering our Pastry Arts program, Jacob had solid volunteer experience in libraries. While at the library, Jacob mastered the Dewey Decimal System. That attention to detail enabled Jacob to become instrumental in collating our orders. His skill became a necessity during Purim, when Jacob was able to lead the charge in packing and organizing hundreds of orders. He also enjoyed making tahini cookies. Jacob has now decided to find a job where he can continue his growth as a baker, particularly in a kosher bakery.

Jesse Wiley

Jesse Wiley

Jesse started our Café Sunflower (now Hospitality) Program just before the Covid-19 pandemic. He quickly adjusted to online learning and stayed motivated throughout the program. Once we returned to in-person operations, Jesse picked up where he left off, readily engaging with and helping customers at the Sunflower Bakeshop. Jesse likes reading Sci-Fi books and has a Youtube channel where he reviews B-rated movies.

Moire Wright

Moire Wright

When Moire started at Sunflower, her goal was to become financially independent. Once in our Pastry Arts Program, she took off like a rocket. Within Moire’s first three months, she was tasked with rolling pie shells for Thanksgiving, no easy task even for our chefs. She also mastered making combo mandel. Now at District Doughnuts, she works with the chefs, making the cinnamon rolls, fillings, and glazes for the doughnuts.