/////Arkansas CARES Graduate Rises to Top as Arkansas Culinary School Student of the Year
Arkansas CARES Graduate Rises to Top as Arkansas Culinary School Student of the Year 2018-01-05T09:15:53+00:00

APRIL 4, 2006 | Lynda Gibson’s life while addicted to drugs was a recipe for disaster.


With the help of Arkansas CARES, a program of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Psychiatry, however, Gibson put the ingredients together for a new life. On March 11, she became Student of the Year for the American Culinary Federation, Central Arkansas Chapter.


“No one ever grows up saying I want to be an addict and go to prison, but when it happened to me, I found out who I really was. That’s where I learned I wanted to be a chef,” Gibson said as she looked back on her struggle to recovery.


Gibson’s life hit a low point when she dropped off her children with a babysitter, paid the sitter with methamphetamine, and didn’t come back. She landed in jail for her drug use, and slowly started to put her life back together.


“I spent the first five months in the dish room in prison, all the time wanting to be a part of the food preparation. I eventually was promoted there and realized I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would,” she said.


After prison Gibson went to Arkansas CARES, a program designed to help addicted mothers learn to stay off drugs and care for their children. CARES is a program of the Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine.


CARES was launching a new nonprofit catering program, CAREfully Catered, through its Building Bridges program. Building Bridges helps women from prison with prior substance abuse difficulties to go to school for retraining to get employment once they have completed the program


“When asked if I wanted to train to be a chef, I was very relieved, knowing that this was a gift from God,” Gibson said. “This made me remember when I was a little girl; I used to dream up recipes and my Mom would buy the ingredients for me and let me make up whatever I dreamed. This was a part of me I had long forgotten. Wow, what a miracle!”


Though it has been hard work in the kitchen and at the Culinary School, Gibson devoted her life to studying and cooking. She was rewarded, not only by being chosen as Student of the Year, but by earning the respect of the people around her. At the Chef’s Ball, Gibson received her award from internationally known chef Fritz Schultz.


“Today, I try not to take anything for granted, especially an education that can never be taken away from me,” Gibson said. “I have received this amazing opportunity to change my life, and it has changed my life.  Becoming a chef will allow me to be an active, productive member of society as well as provide for my children, and I will never have to look back. I hope one day to become a culinary instructor and help others learn this field.”


Links on This Page

Arkansas CARES http://www.arcares.uams.edu/

Arkansas Culinary School http://www.arkansaschef.com/homepage.html