Student Speaker: Janine Frizzell

Janine FrizzellJanine first attended Edmonds Community College as a Running Start student, earning her Associate of Arts degree in 2009. It was during an English class that her eyes were opened to the horrors of human rights violations, especially in Cambodia. So, while on a trip with her church to Cambodia in 2010, Janine met a woman from the U.S. who was opening a restaurant in Battambang - and was hit with a life changing idea. "I decided I wanted to open a restaurant here in the U.S. that had really good food," said Janine, "and that would also be a place where I could sell products that help benefit organizations that fight against and call attention to human rights violations against women."

There was only one problem - Janine didn't know how to cook. So she called a well known cooking school in Seattle that, after finding out that she lived near Edmonds CC, told her she could enroll in our Culinary Arts Program for a fraction of the cost. So she returned to Edmonds CC. "After I looked at the program and spoke to the instructors, I knew this was the place for me," Janine said.

Janine now lives on Orcas Island where, after working at the famous Rosario Resort and Spa, she now is a cook for two restaurants. Janine's advice to students? "You have to love what you do as well as do what you love. Nothing else will make you happy forever."

Janine Frizzell: Commencement 2013 Speech

Janine FrizzellFirst off, congratulations class of 2013 - we made it! -

I know that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting each one of you, but I am so proud of you - and of us.

Look at what we have accomplished. Though we may not all know each other, did you know that 82% of us live within eight miles of school? We have probably bumped into each other at Trader Joe’s.

Or you may have cut off the person sitting next to you last week at the mall. This is our community.

It may not be perfect and there might be days that suck - but look at where you are right now. Over 2,000 of us are graduating right now, together. That’s amazing.

Now, I want you to think about why you started here. Maybe it was to better yourself or learn a new skill; maybe it was to build friends and network in your field; maybe it was to show your kids that it’s never too late to accomplish your goals - in the end, you wanted to make a change. One that started with you and ends who knows where.

I want to tell you a little about myself. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m Janine. I’m 21 years old and I’m graduating from the Culinary Arts program. In the summer of 2010, I went to Cambodia. I didn’t go on vacation or to tour the world - though I wish I could. I went because I’m an activist interested in ending human trafficking. I went with my church, which is like me and wants to see a change and to see human trafficking end. I got the privilege to hang out with girls in a safe house who had been rescued from being in the sex slave industry.

Every day, I left the safe house wanting to help but not knowing how. I didn’t have tons of money to donate to them, or even felt like I really could make a difference. Then we started working with a lady who was opening a café in the city of Battambang. She was from the States and wanted to help the people of Cambodia learn how to cook food safely and give them jobs that they desperately needed.

It hit me while I was there.

I want to start a restaurant that raises money, but also spreads awareness of what’s going on in human trafficking around the world. I called my mom and told her I was going to do this.

And she said “Okay. How?”

Once I got home, I looked into business and culinary schools but I had no idea what I was looking at or for. Honestly, I had never cooked commercially before in my life nor had I thought of starting my own business or restaurant. After some advice and lots of research, I started back at Edmonds Community College in the 2011 winter quarter and it’s been a blast ever since. I say started back because I was here from 2007 to 2009 while in Running Start, and I graduated with an AA associate degree then.

Today, as I graduate with my second degree from Edmonds CC, I still want to make a difference. I can tell you that Eden Café in Battambang is open and doing great. My dream now is to open a restaurant, or two. To serve really great food that’s sustainable and helps not only the people who work or eat there, but also the earth. Also, I still want to be able to donate money to the safe house. Because girls like Chandra - an 11-year-old I met in Cambodia, changed my life by calling me “sister.” I want her to be safe and want the others to be safe and loved. That’s why I’m here. That’s the difference I want to create.

I want to hear your dreams. Will you shout it out for me on the count of 3? Whether it’s to save lives, help the earth, teach. Whatever it is I want to hear it, on three.

Ready? Let’s hear it -. One. Two. Three!

Thank you all! You may not have been able to hear all of the responses, but that’s OK. That was a lot of people wanting to make a difference and letting you know how. School was step one. Now you’ve graduated and are ready for step two - putting it into action.

Edmonds Community College class of 2013, you can make a difference, and together our differences can change the world. You may be making a difference in your family by being the first one to graduate from college. Or you are making a difference in your homes by showing your kids that no one should ever give up on their dreams. You are making a difference by showing the world that old dogs can learn new tricks. You are making a difference because you are choosing to do something. You aren’t letting the world or your life just pass you up; you’re getting in on the action and making it everything you have ever wanted, and more.

And, before I end, I just want to say thanks to few people.

Chef Charles: Thank you. You were always pushing me and telling me I’m capable of more.

Chef Kevin: You opened my eyes to what’s going on around us with food and genetic engineering. You have made me want to change the world in a new way. You keep urging me to learn more and do more.

Traci: You taught me about things I had no idea I enjoyed - like being in the front of the restaurant. I enjoy serving so much. I enjoy talking about wine and sharing food news. I will always keep learning.

To my family: you always were the ones who tested my homework. You were standing behind me when I decided to make this change, and you’ll be standing behind me when I go to open my restaurant one day. I wouldn’t be here without your support.

And to Chad: The love of my life. You’ve put up with me on my long days and my grumpy attitudes after work and school. You’re the one I want to make a difference with. Let’s go open that bar. I’m ready for it.

Class of 2013, from the front to the back, from A to Z, you are making a difference. Great job!! Keep striving to change the world. Keep setting goals. And, more importantly, keep surpassing them.

Thank you.