Kayleigh Walsh

I Used My Taco Bell Scholarship to Study Healthy Cooking

NGI Alum Kayleigh Walsh's Scholarship Story

Kayleigh Walsh was a student in the Natural Gourmet Institute's Chef's Training Program and a 2017 recipient of the Live Más Scholarship, which is awarded by the Taco Bell Foundation to top innovators, creators and dreamers nationwide. 

That year, the Taco Bell Foundation awarded $1 million to 100 young adults, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Recipients of this scholarship used the funds in a wide variety of studies including film, agriculture, aviation, performing arts and more.

Here's why Kayleigh decided to use her award to study health-focused cooking in the Chef's Training Program.

How did you become interested in healthy cooking?

I became interested in healthy cooking at a very young age. I have always struggled with stomach problems, and I quickly realized the healthier I ate, the better I felt. I spent a lot of my childhood in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes and eventually began creating my own.

How long have you been raw/vegan and what has your experience been like?

I have been vegan for 3.5 years and raw vegan for 2.5 years. My experience has been great! I first went vegan for the health benefits but after learning about factory farming and the environmental harm caused by animal agriculture, I knew my decision to go vegan was about much more than just me. Going vegan has not felt like a sacrifice at all, in fact I feel much happier and more energetic. I decided to go raw 1 year into being vegan and it was one of the best decisions I have made. My stomach problems have vanished and I feel like I have found the perfect diet for me.

What was the process of applying for the Taco Bell “Live Mas” Scholarship?

To apply for the Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship I created a two-minute video sharing my passion for culinary arts and my dream to attend NGI. I had already fallen in love with filming and editing my own videos after starting a YouTube channel, so making the scholarship video was a blast. Click here to check out my video submission!

How did you feel when you first learned that you won?

Before I learned I had won, I was asked to do a Skype interview because I had made it to the final round. I was extremely nervous for the interview because I felt I would say the wrong thing and ruin my chances. Turns out the interview was really just a tactic they used to get my reaction on camera of them telling me I had won. I was so shocked when they told me, I felt like it was a dream. After the Skype call was over, I remember jumping around my whole house, screaming loudly, and really scaring my dog!

What made you choose to use your scholarship to attend NGI’s Chef’s Training Program?

After touring NGI, I knew it was the perfect place for me. Seeing students in their chef whites peeling vegetables, learning about nutrition, and making delicious, plant-based food almost seemed too good to be true. I am now more than halfway through the program, and I can truly say attending NGI has been an even better experience than I had imagined.

What was your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part of the program has definitely been the people. CTP 276 is for sure the best NGI group of all time, and I feel so lucky to be part of a group of such amazing, talented, supportive girls.

What are your plans post-graduation?

After graduating, I would love to be an editor for a food video or television company. I am so excited for my internship experience because I plan to intern for a food media company.

What is your favorite raw/vegan fall recipe right now?

My favorite raw vegan fall recipe is definitely my raw vegan mac and cheese. It’s made with zucchini noodles and the sauce has a base of yellow bell peppers and cashews. I made it for my NGI group at lunch the other day, and they ate every last bit. It was also a hit at Thanksgiving dinner this year!

Check out Kayleigh's YouTube channel here.

This post was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.

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