A catering student from Merthyr Tydfil has returned from the USA where she has been showcasing her cooking talents to young people as part of the Camp America programme.
Coleg y Cymoedd student, 23-year-old Eloise Powell has spent her summer in the Hamptons, New York, passing on her cooking talents to young people after falling in love with baking while recovering from spinal surgery.
At the age of 14, Eloise was diagnosed with scoliosis; a curvature of the spine. She was finally able to have surgery to address the problem in 2011.
It was during the long recovery that Eloise decided to make the switch from the hairdressing course she had originally enrolled on to study professional cookery at Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Ystrad Mynach Campus.
Having enjoyed baking since she was a little girl, Eloise is now determined to teach cooking in a further education environment and took part in the Camp America experience to give her a good grounding in working with young people.
Eloise said: â€œMy operation inspired me to really push myself in my career, I now have the drive and determination to gain experiences that I would love to bring back to Wales in the future.
â€œColeg y Cymoedd could not have been more supportive of me, and the course has given me the confidence to be more inventive in my cooking. I want to inspire others to work hard to pursue their dreams, something that I would not have realised without the relationships I have with my catering tutors.â€
Eloise is the first catering student from Coleg y Cymoedd to be accepted onto the Camp America program, a camp provider that sends over 7,000 young people to work at camps in all 50 states of the USA every year.
The young chef will spend eight weeks in New York devising her own syllabus and teaching students how to develop their cooking.
Kelly Jennings, a previous coordinator with Coleg Morgannwgâ€™s Boost Programme which promotes extra-curricular activities, helped Eloise with the Camp America application process. She said: â€œI am immensely proud of Eloiseâ€™s achievements, and it was a pleasure to share her journey to America with her. Eloise has been busy with other commitments around college, keeping on top of her coursework whilst finding time to complete other enrichment opportunities, and has still found the determination to secure herself a place in Camp America.â€
In the final preparation stages before the big move to America, Eloise could not begin to express her excitement at the opportunity: â€œI am most looking forward to cooking with young people, and gaining the skills that I will need to become a teacher in the future. The different culture in New York is daunting, but I cannot wait to explore; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I hope to do as much as I can whilst Iâ€™m there.â€
Rhondda Cynon Taff