Raquel Vazquez

Farm-to-school and school garden allows Raquel Vazquez to shine.

Details

Director of Dining Services (Chartwells), Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District, Jaffrey, N.H.
Age: 24
Education: B.S. in food and nutrition from Framingham (Mass.) State University; working on master’s in nutrition education
Years at organization: 3

Why Selected?

Brendan Ryan, director of food service for Framingham School District, says: Raquel worked for us during an internship, and upon its competition continued as assistant to the director. Raquel is bright, energetic, compassionate, professional and genuinely well rounded in job performance. Her work was consistently above average. Her biggest contribution to our district was the initiation of a farm-to-school program. She was also instrumental in the formation of a student-run garden.

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Having had the opportunity to meet and learn from outstanding mentors, while working my way through very tough situations, to learn what it takes to successfully run a lunch program. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything in my career if I didn’t have really great instructors.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I have very fresh ideas from all the different places I’ve worked. I can go into any location with a new idea and a real sense of imagination.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

My advisors at Framingham State were the first ones to give me the confidence I needed. They helped me steer my path from nutrition and dietetics—I was going for my R.D. I had much more of a passion for school nutrition. They reassured me that I didn’t need my R.D. to be a school nutrition professional.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

When I entered my first internship I had no idea how much responsibility came with the job. I had to face my fears and learn how to manage the high stress, high pressure and high expectations. Having dealt with that while I was still in school really helped me learn to conquer my fears quickly.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

The moment I learned how to deal with high-stress pressure and expectations. You gain that sense of confidence that you can do it.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I’d like to focus on learning new management techniques and ways to manage and lead a staff.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

One of my cooks was out sick, so I had to make macaroni and cheese from scratch for the first time. I poured too much flour in the sauce. I was covered in flour and the sauce was chunky. I had to start all over again.

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

How much I stressed and worried about my job. Having dealt with many obstacles and worrying about every minute detail, I can now focus on the big picture and get the job done without worrying so much.

Under 30