Graduate Spotlight: Jewell
Dancing to Sir-Mix-a-Lot’s “Jump On It” in the courtyard outside the Cafe Reconcile offices, Jewell’s fun-loving, goofy nature is on full display. Watching him easily bring out a smile from even the most reserved Reconcile employees, it’s easy to see why the students love learning from him.
A recent Reconcile graduate, Jewell returned to the cafe in the spring following his internship at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and now works alongside Mr. Alvin as a Steward. Jewell is always ready to lend a hand and is willing to do “whatever needs to be done.” Whether he’s washing dishes or taking inventory, Jewell’s focus and determination show in his hard work. He even teaches Reconcile students how to properly organize and maintain the back of the house one day.
While work in the cafe can often be hectic, Jewell’s situation before coming to Reconcile was a different kind of chaos, full of “bad vibes and ignorant people.” Jewell grew up in New Orleans East, an area that experienced severe flooding in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina and the associated levee failures. Jewell says that that neighborhood “made [him] who [he] is today…it’s a part of [him] now.” While his work at the café earned him impressive cooking skills (he says he enjoys cooking now and loves to make pasta with shrimp), he will also carry the life skills he acquired with him for the rest of his life. Jewell points to Mr. Hiram, Reconcile’s Life Skills Instructor, as a positive role model and a great mentor. Mr. Hiram taught him how to stay away from negative influences and block out ignorant people. He “sees things differently now,” and definitely prefers the chaos of the kitchen to that of the streets.
Despite his incredible success, Jewell is modest in describing his growth. When asked about his life since he came to Reconcile, he says “it’s changed, and still has more room for change and improvement.” Although he’s only 20 years old, Jewell has his sights set on a bright future ahead, and is doing everything he can to learn about the hospitality industry so that he can open his own catering business one day. He’s even considering going to school to study botany- his grandmother is an avid gardener and taught Jewell how to take care of plants at an early age.
When asked about the most valuable advice he can give for future Reconcile students, he says to “think long-term, block out negativity, and do your very best at whatever you’re interested in pursuing.” We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Jewell, and feel so blessed to have him working at Reconcile now!