Alan Mares wants to combine his culinary skills with his passion for helping others. As a resident at Mercy Home, Alan helped out in the kitchen where he met one of the chefs – a graduate from Kennedy-King College’s culinary program. She encouraged him to follow his talents and the interest he’d had in cooking since he was young, and he enrolled in the culinary program at Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute at KKC. It was already affordable, and tuition help from Mercy Home made it possible for him to attend.

He graduated with his Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts and began working in restaurants. He enjoyed it, but as he reflected on his time at Mercy Home, he decided he wasn’t done with his education yet. He returned to City Colleges – this time to Harold Washington College – where he is studying social work. Once he finished his education, he plans to create therapy programs for youth that use cooking as a tool.

“I want to help people and be a positive role model in the Latino community. I feel that is my duty,” he explained.

He has also made it his mission to let people know what resources are available for students who might need help paying for college, especially undocumented students, like he did.

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