Graduation Day at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is always a special day for me and for all of us at Eli’s Cheesecake. It was on Friday, June 11, 2014 that the Eli’s Cheesecake Blog debuted with graduation at CHSAS featuring World Food Prize Winner Catherine Bertini. The next day, I had the privilege of giving the commencement speech at Kendall College; the last graduation in Evanston before this institution moved to its impressive campus on Goose Island in Chicago.

After being involved with CHSAS for over 25 years, I have watched a generation of future leaders graduate from the School and it is always so inspiring to participate in the  ceremony to hear from the global leaders in food and agriculture who have joined us in the celebration and to see the students recognized.

This is also the 4th year that Eli’s Cheesecake has presented scholarships to graduating seniors. This year’s recipients of the Aaron Easter Memorial Scholarship, given in the name of the late son of Robert and Cheryl Easter, were Alana Chose and Alyssa Pedersen, who will be attending the College of ACES at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. The Robert A. Hatoff & Eli M. Schulman Scholarship is given in the name of our Founder and his dearest friend, Robert Hatoff, and was awarded to Grace Mikrut attending Illinois State University and Noor Ahmand, attending the University of Illinois Chicago

In 2015 we welcomed Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service for the United States Department of Agriculture. A group of us from the School has visited Dr. Jacobs-Young at the USDA in January of 2012 and she gave remarks at the commencement in June of 2012 when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was the speaker.  Today, Dr. Jacobs-Young serves as the Administrator of the ARS which has an annual budget of $1.1 billion and has over 2,700 employees with more than a hundred locations nationally and around the world. ARS works to ensure that Americans have reliable, adequate supplies of high-quality food and other agricultural products and is a significant partner with the land grant colleges nationally.

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Dr. Jacobs-Young took a tour of the  six career paths at CHSAS before the graduation ceremony with the Top 10 graduates. Here Noor Ahmad, co-valedictorian and FFA President explains the Food Science Career Path.

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The Top 10 graduates of the CHSAS Class of 2015 give a tour of the animal science career path and the CHSAS Farm to Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA.

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The CHSAS Graduating Class of 2015.

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After the graduation ceremony, Dr. Jacobs-Young is congratulated by Rouhy Shalabi, Business Advisory Board Co-Chair and LSC Chair, Dr. Laurie Kramer, Associate Dean of the College of ACES at the University of Illinois, Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake and Co-Chair of the Advisory Board, Lucille Shaw, Assistant Principal and Sheila Fowler, Agricultural Department Chair.


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Dr. Jacobs-Young, Lucille Shaw, and Marc Schulman congratulate the recipients of the Robert A. Hatoff & Eli M. Schulman Scholarships, Grace Mikrut on the left and Noor Ahmad on the right.