Boy turns life around by cooking, awarded scholarship - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Boy turns life around by cooking, awarded scholarship

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PEORIA, Ariz. -

A valley high school student just got some help when it comes to paying for college. He was able to turn his life around after finding a passion for culinary arts -- and now he's been rewarded with a scholarship.

Jibriel Saunders has really gotten on the right track in his last two years of high school. In fact, in these letters recommending him for the scholarship, his principal ranks him in the top one percent of the students he's met in 30 years of public education.

Jibriel Saunders is a senior at Peoria High School, but in the kitchen, he has the skills of a professional chef -- something his culinary arts instructor noticed the first day she met him.

"And I started watching him and I could just see this passion in his eyes and you don't always see that passion," says Peoria High culinary arts instructor Barbara Saltzman. "And right then and there I decided he was a culinary prodigy -- he already knew it before he was taught it."

Jibriel was just awarded a $1,400 scholarship from the Peoria Education Foundation for his hard work and dedication.

It's a real turn around for him. He says he was on the wrong path after his mom and sister both died of cancer within three years of each other. And his brother and step-brother were both killed in a drive-by shooting when he was five.

"I was a very bad kid and I kind of changed the way I was because of what my mother told me -- my mom said you need pass high school you need to get your stuff together and I want you to graduate. And when she passed away that stayed in my head forever," says Jibriel.

His instructor calls him her right hand man and has no doubt Jibriel will make it against all odds.

"This guy's going to own his own restaurant -- and he's going to be greeting his customers and cooking for them at the same time -- and yet have all of his employees just love him," says Saltzman.

Jibriel says he plans to use that money to pay for classes at Estrella Mountain Community College and does plan on owning his own restaurant someday.

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