Questar III BOCES celebrates Career and Technical Education Month®, an opportunity to showcase our students, while also recognizing the importance of our programs to the region and economy.

New York State is experiencing a skills gap. While 49% of New York jobs require skilled training – more education than high school, but less than a 4-year degree – only 37% of New Yorkers are trained at this level. Students enrolled in our CTE programs are learning the skills they need to help bridge this gap, while setting themselves up for successful careers in high-demand fields.

Be sure to follow us Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, and LinkedIn to hear more about our programs and stories like Nathan’s below.

Questar III BOCES Culinary student Nathan Sober is a senior at Robert H. Gibson Technical School from Schodack Central School District. Nathan was looking for a different type of education experience and wanted to try something new. So, with an interest in cooking but not a lot of time in the kitchen, he went for it and applied for our culinary program.

“When I attended the open house, I was surprised to learn about the cost of our kitchen,” said Nathan. “It was crazy to me that they would put that type of money into places like this for us.”

Students get to work daily in industrial sized kitchens, learning the skills they need to be successful and finding their culinary niche.

“It’s very engaging here,” said Nathan. “We get to work on things we’re passionate about. We’re hands-on, working with equipment. It’s a great way to learn.”

And Nathan has been learning a lot. In addition to all he learns at school, Nathan got his first restaurant job soon after joining the program. After a brief internship, he’s been working with a baking and catering company for the past year and will be starting another internship next month. He’s also been exposed to numerous talented chefs who have visited their classroom to assist with their dishes and gets to work with his teachers every day who both have culinary backgrounds.

“Chef Ottati is very experienced and has worked in every type of restaurant, including fine dining in New York City,” shared Nathan. “And Mr. Vickers has worked on cruise ships, traveling for months on end. It’s nice to hear about the different culinary worlds.”

While Nathan was seeking a different school experience, some things can’t be avoided – like math, science, and English. He shared that they were still different though because of how food and career focused they are. In science, they learned how mold forms, how to safely handle food, and how to properly wash their hands. The math was a lot of recipe conversions, and English is focused on building a portfolio, cover letter, resume, and how to properly fill out applications.

Nathan is now preparing for his return to the ProStart competition this spring. While he did not place last year, this year he will be part of a management competition with a food truck proposal, something near and dear to his heart. Nathan hopes to own one someday.

“I like the concept of a food truck because of the flexibility to change it,” said Nathan. “I can go anywhere, I can go places where the food is in season and change everything I do based off of my location and the regional cuisine, which I love.”

When Nathan graduates, he will receive his ProStart certification, which he shares will be helpful when he attends the Culinary Arts program at Schenectady County Community College next fall. They will be able to review his transcripts and certification, potentially removing credits that he would normally be required to take, putting him ahead of his peers.

“Culinary is a really fun and rewarding industry,” said Nathan. “I’m glad I came here.”

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