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CANTON — Octavia Stokes had dreams of acceptable a world-famous chef from the time she was 5 years old. 

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Much of her adolescence has been spent advancing the dream. The 2015 GlenOak Aerial Academy alum was captain of Jackson Aerial School’s comestible arts team, with affairs to appear the Comestible Arts Academy of Switzerland afterwards graduation.

After her father, Ronald Jr., accidentally died in Fall 2011, Stokes herself was stricken with narcolepsy with cataplexy in December. Doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to handle a knife.

Though dreams of belief Switzerland were dashed, an undaunted Stokes found the appropriate aggregate of medications and connected cooking.


“The summer I accelerating aerial academy I did an internship at Table 6 and got a job at Gervasi,” she said. “Both were giving me real-world acquaintance in the kitchen. In a bartering kitchen, you accept to be ‘Speedy Gonzales.’ I always alarm myself a kitchen sloth. I just ample out that alive in a bartering kitchen was not the best abstraction for me.”

Stokes said best bodies don’t apprehend the concrete and mental demands of alive as a bartering chef.  

“Personally, I didn’t anticipate about it,” she said. “Having a job in a kitchen, you don’t get breaks; you assignment on holidays; it’s stressful. This is a affection of mine. I didn’t appetite cooking to become commodity I’m not amorous about. I didn’t appetite it to become a dream with the ablaze out.”

Stokes pivoted, affable for ample ancestors events, fundraisers, and as a claimed chef.

“I just don’t anticipate alive in a bartering kitchen is my thing,” she said. “It wasn’t obtainable for me as a person. Chefs, like NFL players, get austere out by 35.”

She admits there was guilt.

“I had this dream that so abounding bodies were aflame about,” she said, “I had this dream from the time I was  5. Whenever your dream shifts, ‘Well actually, this is not the chase I’m running; I’m activity to go on a altered track,’ I acquainted bad alone because I had all these bodies (rooting) for me.”

Her mother, Lori, said that while she was afraid at her daughter’s decision, she’s proud.

“I was a little surprised, but I accurate her decision, abnormally back she promised me that she would consistently be my claimed chef, and absolutely she has been,” Lori Stokes said. 

Lori Stokes said parents should try to abutment their children’s decision-making.

 “My admonition would be to bethink it’s their activity and they accept to alive it, but support them as they try to amount out what they appetite to do,” she said. “Be open-minded, because it may be commodity that you wouldn’t appetite them pursuing.”

She added that parents accept to break positive, admitting doubts.

“Remain absolute back conversing with them because one ounce of negativity will body a bank that you don’t appetite to accept to beating down,” Lori Stokes said. “Offering them support gives a aggregation of beatitude to them that they can use as they cross through the action of planning their future. They will adulation you for your support, alike if they don’t acknowledge it at the moment.”

Her dream deferred, Stokes graduated from Stark State College in 2018 with a amount in activated sociology, again abashed on to the University of Akron, area she’s on the border of earning bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and folklore with a accessory in Spanish, and certificates in teaching English as Second Language, linguistics and women’s studies. 

“Ultimately, I appetite to get my master’s in cultural anthropology and theology,” she said. “I would adulation to do association outreach, alive with animal trafficking, or arrest bread-and-butter and amusing disparities.”

Stokes additionally has an internship at the Summit County Executive Office and works as a adolescence apprenticeship specialist at the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Ohio.

“We put too abundant burden on kids,” she said. “Wanting you to amount out what you appetite to do in third brand is not attainable. We accept to let kids be kids. Let them amount out who they are, and in the bosom of addition out who they are, they’ll figure out what they appetite to do.”

In 2019, Stokes received the Woman of Courage Award from She Elevates, DeLores Pressley’s accessory outreach for girls and adolescent women.

“I would like bodies to apperceive that Octavia is a actual committed adolescent lady,” Pressley said. “Once she lends herself to something, you can be assured that she will be committed and follow-through.”

“Being conceited is a afterlife sentence,” she said. “I’m consistently growing and learning, but I’m still cooking; I still accept that passion. I just think what I was dreaming, in reality, it abashed a little bit.”

Stokes credits her abiding acceptance for comestible her during the changes. It’s led to mission assignment in the Dominican Republic.

“I like to say that at the end of the day, if I accept nothing else, at atomic I accept God,” she said. “I accept so abundant actuality to be beholden for. If I never achieve annihilation else, I accept a ancestors that loves me. My acceptance is a actual big allotment of aggregate I do. I consistently appetite to leave commodity bigger than I begin it. When my dad died back I was 14, the acumen I didn’t do things I could have, is because of God.” 

Stokes said her acquaintance has accomplished her that there can be a aberration amid a affection and a calling.

“Sometimes we get that confused,” she said. “You accept to be the one to anticipate that. If acceptance is allotment of your journey, ask God about it. God consistently calls us to people, not a place.”

Stokes added that while no one should accord up on a dream, pay absorption to added signs.

“In aerial school, I was in the Spanish Club, Key Club, I took allotment in the Model United Nations, all activities about culture,” she said. “Even admitting I didn’t apperceive wasn’t going to be a chef, the things alfresco of that are what I’m belief now. That assault my mind.”

Stokes said anybody should have a big dream, a medium-sized dream, and a little dream.

“I’m still affable for my family, and that’s OK,” she said. “Just don’t bandy your dream in the debris — reframe it. You ability not be able to beat the world, but you ability be able to conquer a actual baby town. Sometimes, you aloof accept to adjust, but accumulate actuality you. Don’t let anybody stop you.”

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

This commodity originally appeared on The Repository: Octavia Stokes cooks up new career afterwards dream derails

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