NORWALK, CT (WCBS 880) – Neena Perez escaped the nightmare of her youth in Stamford by watching TV cooking shows featuring Julia Child.
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She was abused as a child and became a teenage mother (pregnant at age 15) who barely made it through high school.
She never dreamed she would one day graduate from college and, armed with a sheepskin, be propelled into the world of restaurant and food service management.
“I’ve always wanted to be a chef since I was a little girl. I remember standing in front of the TV and watching Julia Child and wanting to do what she was doing,” she says.READ MORE: NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora Still In Critical Condition Following Deadly Shooting In Harlem
Perez says her life did a 180 the minute she walked through the doors of Norwalk Community College.
“It was like Dorothy and ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ That’s what it was like. I opened the door and saw color,” Perez told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “I don’t know how I did it, but I did it, you know, and I’ve maintained a 3.9 GPA and I put 125 percent into everything that I do.”
At Norwalk Community College, Neena proudly accepts the honor of class speaker.
She has juggled class studies and final exams with the startup of her own business.MORE NEWS: Lashawn McNeil, Suspect In Deadly Harlem Police Shooting, Was On Probation, Had 5 Prior Arrests
“I can’t believe it. I mean I walked into these doors in 2007 a desperate woman and I’m leaving the class speaker. Like, who does that? Who does that,” she said. “I’m shooting for the stars! I’m going for it!”