The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and partner PepsiCo Foodservice awarded several scholarships to upcoming stars in the restaurant industry as part of the 2010 Faces of Diversity Awards program.

A newly integrated component of the program, the $2,500 Faces of Diversity Scholarships were presented to students who have excelled in their respective colleges and universities and have shown a passion for and dedication to a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

The Faces of Diversity Awards program, created by the National Restaurant Association in partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, celebrates diversity in the restaurant and foodservice industry. The awards and scholarships were presented before hundreds of restaurateurs from all 50 states at the outset of the Association’s annual Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

“We are honored to provide these outstanding students with further resources to pursue their careers in the restaurant and foodservices industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF.

“Diversity is a key ingredient of our industry’s current and future success. The addition of NRAEF scholarships to the Faces of Diversity Awards program provides us with an additional platform to support committed and talented young people, the future of our industry.”

Sally Smith, National Restaurant Association Vice Chair, NRAEF Trustee and president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., presented the scholarships to the following students at the Faces of Diversity Awards ceremony:

• Ashanti Jimerson, a former participant in the NRAEF’s ProStart high school program, will be completing her freshman year in the hospitality program at Howard University. Jimerson’s culinary dreams were launched from her high school’s concession stand, where she worked. Jimerson went on to mentor young children in cooking nutritiously. She interned at Dave and Busters, all while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average.

• A Robert Morris University student and another alumnus of the ProStart program, Marcus Efford-Singleton has dreams of owning his own restaurant upon graduation. An entrepreneur since his high school days, Efford-Singleton started his own business, Cakes by Marcus, in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, and was recognized as most likely to succeed by his senior class.

• Frederick Howard, an honor student at the High School of Hospitality Management and current freshman at Johnson & Wales University, began his road to culinary success early by volunteering in community kitchens and involving himself in C-CAP and Future Business Leaders of America.

• As a soon-to-be graduate of San Diego University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Mario Robles worked his way up from dishwasher to manager at a local Shoney’s in San Diego. Robles is now a member of the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association’s Special Events Committee and a co-founder of the Foodies, a student association geared towards restaurant-savvy scholars.

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