In remembrance of the C-CAP Chicago alum who was killed outside his workplace this past summer, HIC, Harold Import Co. announces the creation of the C-CAP/Denzel Thornton Memorial Alumni Scholarship.
This scholarship honors Thornton’s spirit and determination and will be presented for the first time on March 19 during the Culinary Futures Chicago Dinner Reception & Silent Auction to support Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).
A Bright Future Dimmed
Thornton attended Corliss High School and graduated in 2009. He was awarded a Full Tuition Scholarship from C-CAP to attend Johnson & Wales University in North Miami where he majored in Hospitality Management and Tourism. During his time at JWU, he interned at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and went on to be a student ambassador for the program at JWU.
Upon graduation in 2013, he became one of the youngest hotel managers of the Marriott in New Orleans. In late 2014, he returned to Chicago to care for his grandmother and began working at ARAMARK/Chicago Public Schools, mentoring students and helping to create healthier lunches in the school system. He remained in that position until his death in the summer of 2016. He was 25 years old.
“Denzel was a bright light in the C-CAP program," explains Robert Laub, president of HIC, Harold Import Co. “His drive and determination enabled him to rise up against all odds and to build a future for himself. Denzel showed immense gratitude for the opportunity that the C-CAP program provided to him, and he was determined to give back to those who helped him succeed.
“What is quite telling is that, given his opportunity to go wherever his skills could take him, he returned to Chicago to give back to the very schools from where he came. It is unfortunate that his life was cut short, and we felt it fitting to create a scholarship in his honor.”
Students, alumni, staff and faculty remember Thornton as a bright, positive, professional and hard-working student. As explained by Richard Grausman, founder and chairman emeritus of C-CAP, “Denzel was one of our outstanding students in high school. His passion for the culinary and hospitality fields was evident in all he did. Denzel was one of C-CAP’s more vocal C-CAP supporters and was a leader in the Chicago C-CAP Alumni Association, often the first to volunteer whenever needed. Denzel was a consummate example of a JWU alumni, and was already demonstrating great success in his young career.”
The C-CAP Denzel Thornton Memorial Alumni Scholarship will be presented to the student who best exemplifies his spirit, determination and dedication to building a future for him/herself, while inspiring others through their work.
Added Laub, “Denzel signed his emails with, ‘You succeed by helping others succeed,’ and it is with this spirit that HIC has created this scholarship.”
For that past seven years, HIC has been instrumental in supporting scholarships to benefit Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a national non-profit organization that works with public schools to prepare at-risk students for college and careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Specifically, the annual Chicago Culinary Futures Benefit brings together industry professionals and friends in Chicago for the International Home + Housewares Show to benefit C-CAP Chicago students. Through the years, with HIC’s help and support, C-CAP Chicago students were awarded more than $430,000 in scholarships.
Not only does HIC help raise money at this popular industry event, HIC’s support for these students continues throughout the year. A portion of the proceeds from the HIC Essentials line of kitchen gadgets are donated to Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).
Tickets for the Culinary Futures Chicago Dinner Reception & Silent Auction on March 19 6:30-9 p.m. at Chez Chicago, are available online.
Pictured left to right: Nicola Copeland, C-CAP Chicago, program coordinator; Denzel Thornton, C-CAP 2013; and
Robert Laub, president, HIC, Harold Import Co., right.
Photos courtesy of C-CAP