Patrick Robinson
Candis Outsen, SSCC Culinary program student spoke before those attending the annual Gifts from the Earth fundraising dinner at the college Jan. 25. Outson is now working professionally after seeking and getting a scholarship, making the Dean's list and overcoming obstacles along the way. The dinner raised $210,000.

SLIDESHOW: SSCC's Gifts from the Earth raises $210,000; Student Candis Outsen spoke about how her life was changed through education

As a young mother, Candis Outsen lost her job and felt somewhat lost. After some serious soul searching, she discovered that her true passion in life was cooking. As she puts it, cooking and bringing people together “ignited her fire.”

Outsen, a student in SSCC's Culinary Arts program was a featured speaker at the college's annual Gifts from the Earth fundraising dinner Jan. 25. SSCC announced that the event raised $210,000, a new record in its eleven-year history.

Financing the pursuit of her dream was going to be difficult but she earned a scholarship that has allowed her to continue on her professional path – and has made the Dean’s List along the way.

"Since I enrolled here a whole new world has opened up for me," Outsen said. "I'm doing things I never thought I would. During my first three quarters at South I made the Dean's list three times and maintained a 3.8 GPA and I participated in an honors competition class. I also established a student organization called the "Culinary Council", she explained whose purpose is to represent culinary students acting as a liaison to instructors.

Outsen also spoke about the challenges she faced, especially financial as she pursued her education, fearing at one point, out of money, she might have to quit. She applied for a Foundation Scholarship, requiring an essay. "This was not easy. How do you tell someone in one page that this can change your life?"

She got the scholarship and has since gone on to work for Emerald Cove Catering.

Proceeds from the event benefit South's Foundation in its mission to support South students and programs with scholarships, internships, emergency funding, tutoring and the latest program equipment.

"The level of support shown for our students, school and mission each year at Gifts is truly amazing," South President Gary Oertli said. "This year was no different, and the funds raised tonight will undoubtedly have a crucial and lasting impact on our student population today, and well into the future."

A sold-out crowd of generous supporters started their evening with a silent auction accompanied by hors d'oeuvres and wines created exclusively by South Culinary Arts and Northwest Wine Academy students and alumni. From there, the event moved to South's Brockey Center for a live auction. Attendees were treated to a multi-course meal of Northwest-inspired dishes crafted by a lineup of celebrity chefs (many of them South alumni) with the aid of students from South's culinary, wine and four-year Hospitality Management programs.

Outsen's portion of the program, called "Fund A Dream," alone generated $58,000 of the event's record total.

"Gifts From The Earth is our opportunity to share the bountiful food,wine and service found at South and in the greater Puget Sound region with our wonderful community of supporters," President Oertli said. "We look forward to doing it all again next year!"

Gifts From The Earth is made possible by the support of the following sponsors: Food Services of America, Boeing, Charlie's Produce, Rebar and Associates, McGranahan Architects, The Gene Colin and Susan Janus Charitable Fund, Union Bank, Interbay Food Company, Southern Wine and Spirits, WSECU, Pedersen's, Talking Rain and Vigor.

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