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The National ProStart Student Invitational® (NPSI) is the country’s premier secondary-school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. The competition that took place on April 26 – 28, 2024, in Baltimore, MD, saw more than 400 student competitors put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Trustees, state restaurant associations, and family and friends. Dayanara Mariscal, a management competitor and student from Brighton High School, calls the experience “unforgettable.”

Here’s her story:

National Competition: An Unforgettable Experience

As a hospitality student, participating in the National ProStart Student Invitational® was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to grow, learn, and showcase my skills. The journey was filled with excitement, challenges, and unforgettable moments.

The moment I stepped off the plane in Baltimore, I felt a rush of excitement. The competition was about to begin, and I was eager to represent my school and compete against the best ProStart students in the nation.

On Friday, we attended the opening ceremony, where we were introduced to distinguished guests like Niko Moon and the president of the National Restaurant Association. The atmosphere was electric, and the anticipation for the competition was palpable.

On Saturday, the competition day, we had the opportunity to showcase our presentation skills and weeks of practice. I was proud of how our team progressed from the initial concept of our restaurant, “The Rocky Range,” to delivering a comprehensive proposal to the judges. I felt so proud that I had made it to this point. I discovered that the long days of our hard work and determination paid off and ultimately led to my team doing well.

The Q&A portion of the competition was particularly challenging, as we had to rely on our knowledge from ProStart Levels 1 and 2, as well as our research, to impress the judges. The experience taught me the importance of preparation and adaptability.

This was my first ProStart competition, and it significantly impacted my professional development. The ProStart program has equipped me with valuable skills, and the competition provided a platform to apply those skills in a real-world setting. One of the biggest struggles however was my presentation skills. Standing in front of a crowd was difficult and with this opportunity, I feel that I have improved greatly.

As I reflect on my National ProStart Invitational experience, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to represent my school, collaborate with talented teammates, and learn from industry professionals. It was a truly unforgettable journey that has shaped me into the young professional I am today.

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