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Senior Spotlight update: One year after graduation, former Vista High School student lives his culinary dream

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Posted at 8:58 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 00:01:07-05

VISTA, CA (KGTV) -- When the COVID -19 pandemic hit last March, we put the Senior Spotlight on high school students who missed out on the final months of the 2020 school year. One of those students was former Vista Panther Parker McIlmoil, who one year later, continues to pursue his dreams in the field of culinary arts.

"I became interested in the culinary arts when I was a kid watching Rachel Ray, Chopped, and other shows on the Food Network."

Despite the pandemic, Parker hasn't stopped pursing his dreams, and is now a freshman at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

"The culinary school here is quite fun," says Parker. "It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, but we are able to be in the kitchens for all the cooking classes. About twice a week were are in the kitchens cooking for about 6 to 7 hours. It's a lot of stuff, but were are learning so much. I don't think I can get this kind of education anywhere else."

Parker has been able to continue his studies throughout the pandemic.

"COVID has effected my schooling in that I have to get a health check every single day. Most of the classes have been moved to online, but cooking is still in person, and that is what matters most to me."

Parker admits that culinary school is really tough, but credits the great program at Vista High School for keeping him a step ahead.

"The Vista High School culinary program actually helped me out a lot. Sometimes chef will bring up stuff, and I will already know what it is, because of Chef Plunkett at Vista High. I'm really grateful to have gone through that program because it's given me the step above other students here."

In the future, Parker hopes to one day open a restaurant in San Diego, while at the same time giving back to his community.