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Student Stories

Ethan stacking cookies

Ethan, Pastry Arts

Ethan was hired by Woodmont Country Club in June 2021. Sunflower helped Ethan to manage his autism, ADHD and executive functioning needs in a professional kitchen. Hired at age 19, he quickly progressed from part-time to his full-time position as Assistant Baker and Assistant Chef, becoming a valued employee. According to Ethan, “[Sunflower] instructors were helpful, patient, and good about explaining, showing me techniques. I properly advocate for myself, [and] am becoming a better human being not just working in a kitchen or baking, but out in the community.”


Jessica, Hospitality

Jessica is working at Old Town Pet Resort. As a Hospitality Associate, she helps transport dogs from owners to the staging area, takes care of pets during their stay and communicates with pet owners (regarding pet needs). At age 20, she has learning disabilities and ADHD. Jessica attributes Sunflower with helping to improve her communication skills and learning the workplace importance of being trustworthy, respectable and confident around colleagues and customers. She credits her “amazing Sunflower instructor” with providing the guidance and coaching to help her navigate the job interview process. In Jessica’s words, “[t]his program was so worth it!”

Dishon, Pastry Arts

After his Sunflower training, Dishon began working at Classic Bakery in Gaithersburg. Given the nearly 2-hour, one-way commute, he found a new position closer to home at District Doughnut. While training, he appreciated Sunflower’s small classes. Dishon stated, it was “easy to talk to chefs about what you are struggling with.” At Sunflower, making bread was his favorite. Among his talents, the chefs applauded his incredible braiding skills and accuracy; as well as his positive attitude and diligence. In his new position, Dishon is a bakery assistant.


Juan, Hospitality

Juan worked at Café Sunflower where he mastered the skill of excellent customer service. In Juan’s words, “I love this place. Joey and co-workers helped me learn to stay focused, learn what I needed to do and learn all the products, even with my learning differences. They are really nice to me. I enjoyed helping customers, making their drinks and making their day.  I also helped to train students from the Hospitality Program during their internship!”