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Renee Smith

Scholarship named in honor of CAHMI director

August 28, 2017
The Arkansas Hospitality Association has named a scholarship in honor of Renee Smith, director of the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, and the first recipient is a UA-PTC student. Earlier this year, the Little Rock Kitchen Cabinet partnered with the Arkansas Hospitality Association in honoring Smith as a “2017 Culinary Trailblazer,” which recognizes contributions to culinary education in Arkansas. Smith, of Hot Springs, has been teaching since 1983 and has trained thousands of the state’s restaurateurs in food safety through the ServSafe program.

The 2017 Renee Smith Scholarship this year is awarded to UA-PTC baking student Courtney Plyler, 18, of Murfreesboro. Courtney enrolled at UA-PTC in Fall 2016 and will graduate in May 2018 with an Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry. In a year’s time, she has honed her competition skills, winning top honors at the Arkansas SkillsUSA competition in Hot Springs in April and then third place overall at the national competition in June. For the past year, she has always worked as a pastry assistant at the Clinton Library. She credits Smith and other instructors at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute for helping her navigate college and encouraging her to develop her culinary skills through competition.

“I’ve known since sixth grade that I wanted to be a baker,” Courtney said. After college, she plans to get more professional experience by “working her way up” before owning her own bake shop.

The $1,000 scholarship will be a tremendous help in paying for her college expenses, she said.

Smith, who teaches Hospitality Practicum in which Courtney is a student, was thrilled that one of her students received the honor.

“I wasn’t on the scholarship selection committee, but I’m so glad it’s Courtney,” she said.
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