First College Graduate Checks In

First College Graduate Checks In
Posted on 08/19/2014
Parris Turner Claims "I'm First"

Fourteen-year-old Parris Turner started with a healthy dose of anxiety when admitted to Cristo Rey Kansas City’s first class of freshmen in 2006. She was a pilgrim in a new venture that told prospective students, “Come here, if you want to supersize your dreams. Come here, if you want to go to college.” 

“I never saw people going to college or had the role model of anyone going to college,” said Parris. “I saw too many negatives – teen pregnancies, gangs, incarceration.” 

Parris was transformed in four short years. “My teachers believed in me so much that I came to understand that I could believe in myself, too,” recalled Parris. 

Cristo Rey provided Parris with a “push” toward a career. As a junior, Parris enrolled in a cooking course.  That gave birth to a career. “I remember it was the day we made Veal Saltimbocca,” reflected Parris. “I enjoyed chemistry with Mrs. Ligon, and making those veal cutlets, topped with prosciutto and sage, reminded me of the fun we had mixing chemicals to create a new compound. The similarities between chemistry and cooking became apparent, and that’s the day I fell in love with cooking,” said Parris.

Parris graduated with Cristo Rey’s first class in 2010 and followed her passion to the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Phoenix. After taking accelerated course work, she graduated in three-and-half years. By crossing the finish line with a degree in hand in the fall of 2013, Parris became the first Cristo Rey Kansas City alumni to finish college.  

Parris’ drive won her a position in culinary management at Sodexo, a company providing food services to a variety of industries. In less than a year, she advanced to Junior Sous Chef, where she manages  and supervises people.   

Parris is the first in her family to graduate from college. She credits the support of family, friends, teachers, and a girls’ development group offered at Cristo Rey. “I also wanted to make my mom proud,” said Parris. “My mom didn’t have an opportunity to go to college. I know if she had, she would have been a rock star.” 

When asked what advice she has for Cristo Rey students, Parris replied, “Believe in yourself, before you believe in anything else. And, you have to have a vision.”

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