A Send-Off with Spirit for Hospitality Graduates
May 18, 2022

Hospitality Graduates
Graduates from left to right in the picture are:
Jada Anderson, Nathaniel Roberts, Jaylyn Anderson, Ethan Colina

It means “Everything,” Ethan Colina says, proudly displaying a Red Spirit knife with his name engraved on it. “I failed one class,” he continues about his student experience. 

Colina, who is originally from the Philippines is now a graduate of the Culinary Arts Diploma program at Portage College. He and classmates Jada Anderson, Jaylyn Anderson, and Nathaniel Roberts are all receiving the personalized knives as part of a graduation presentation from their chef instructors at the St. Paul campus.

“It compares to a pinning ceremony that nurses have,” explains Al Bertschi, Dean of Environmental Sciences and Trades & Technology at Portage College. “It’s a really good feel-good day for the students as well as the faculty – to see the students graduate and take off to their future careers.”

“I’m excited to move on and get my Red Seal,” says an enthusiastic Jada Anderson, who is going off to be a Second Cook at a camp in British Columbia. She completed the work placement component of her studies at a café called Coco’s in Jasper. “I got to learn a lot about vegan cooking, vegan baking and did a lot of sourdoughs and bagels. I love the mountains. It was an amazing experience. I’m so excited to be going to BC right now!” she exclaims.

For faculty, graduation is also an emotional time. When asked to describe it, Red Seal Chef Colleen Neily, who teaches the second year of Culinary Arts says, “Well then I’m going to cry,” smiling and waving her hands near her face. Referring to students, Neily comments, “They learn about themselves, their uniqueness, their creativity, what their specialty is going to be and we get to see them grow for two years and then we get to send them off and say, ‘You’re ready, go to industry. Congratulations!’”

“I’m really proud of myself and my classmates,” Anderson acknowledges her peers. “I wouldn’t have done it without the support of them as well.” She describes surviving an injury that had her learning to walk again, “it made me realize that there was more to life than the life I was living.” Still requiring surgery, Anderson started her first year in the Professional Cooking Certificate. She points out, “There was times that I was limping and times that I had to go out crying because it hurt.”

Reflecting more on the journey, Anderson gives credit to her family, “My oldest son is actually the one who told me to go back to school. For twenty years I’ve wanted to go back to school, and I always thought ‘no, I’m too old.’” Pushing past this thinking, Anderson finally decided it was time to do something she wanted for herself.

For more information about Hospitality programs:

Lindsay Toth | Marketing Specialist


Hospitality Grad Jada Anderson

Jada Anderson of St. Paul says for twenty years she wanted to go back to school but always thought she was too old. After surviving an injury, she decided it was finally time to go for it. Jada applied to the Professional Cooking Certificate program for year one continuing on to the Culinary Arts Diploma for year two. As a graduate of the program, Jada receives the Red Spirit Knife with her classmates.

Hospitality Programs

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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