April 12, 2022

College student has high HOPES after start at Cheesecake Factory

Program participant plans future in law enforcement, and maybe as restaurant owner.
Shavonne Schofield

Schofield is about to graduate from college, and plans to become a police detective or probation officer. She’d also like to own a restaurant, too.

Shavonne Schofield believes patience is a virtue.

Patience can help us achieve our goals and avoid making bad decisions. That’s the lesson she’s learned, and thanks to it, she’s finding out that now is finally her time to grow. 

At 24, the Boston native and participant in Hospitality Opportunities for People (Re)Entering Society (HOPES), is about to graduate from college and begin the next phase of her journey—perhaps as a police detective or probation officer.
She’d like to own a restaurant someday, too.

Discovering HOPES

HOPES, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation program developed in partnership with several community-based organizations, correctional departments, and state restaurant associations, trains adults 18 years or older who are or were justice-system involved find jobs and potentially establish careers at restaurants and other foodservice businesses.

In 2019, Schofield found herself aging out of the foster care system. She was attending Bridgewater State University, but needed a job and a place to live.

Ryan Brennan, a case manager at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), introduced her to HOPES and helped her navigate the training and subsequent job interview she needed to begin work as a host at the local Cheesecake Factory restaurant. With the job, and a voucher for an apartment, HOPES offered her a lifeline, and she grabbed it. 

“I’ve been in college for about six years now, working on my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice,” she says. “I’d been through hardships, and was looking for a job. I needed to get out on my own and rent an apartment. Then the pandemic happened, and finding that job was really hard. Ryan not only helped with that, but also with resources for housing. He’s been a great support.”

Learning the ropes, pursuing dreams

Working at the Cheesecake Factory also reawakened her passion for cooking and food, and sparked her interest in the restaurant industry, she said.

“I like to cook—mostly Southern food—and it’s actually become a dream of mine that one day I might open my own restaurant,” she says. “When Ryan first suggested I try working there, I was totally for it. I wanted to get an insider’s knowledge of what it’s like to work in that environment, what it might be like to run a business like that. The biggest lessons I learned there were how to prioritize tasks and accommodate customers’ needs, especially during a pandemic.”

Schofield ultimately left the job to accept another that fit her original career path in law enforcement, working security at Wellesley College.

She says patience has gotten her through, as it has during most of the tough times in her life.
“It’s taught me that even when you’re most challenged, if you wait a little longer, you’ll get what you need—and what you want.

“I’m really strong; I’ve learned I can do whatever I put my mind to. That’s what keeps me going. I’ve realized that if I don’t do it for myself, no one will do it, and if I don’t ask for help when it’s needed, no one will know.”

Brennan agrees. “Shavonne has the ability to not just be patient, but also trust and believe that what she’s doing is right,” he says. “That’s what’s happening now, and it’s been amazing. It’s why she’s doing so well.”