Determined to come out on top - Justin Bell
Justin Bell’s life has been full of peaks and valleys, but after his time at Helms College he’s determined to come out on top.
From a young age, Bell experienced the qualms of instability with his father’s irregular involvement in his life. Bell and his mother lived with his grandparents who served as his strongholds and motivators even encouraging him to help out in the kitchen at the age of 4. Bell’s devotion to his family was clear when straight out of high school he turned down a full scholarship to the University of Georgia to stay home and help take care of his ailing grandmother; little did he know she would pass away a few days later. Bell contacted UGA about changing his decision, but it was too late; the offer was off the table and he had to come up with a new plan.
Bell went on to Augusta State University (Now Augusta University) where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration while working at the North Augusta Country Club. Bell thought this time his plan was a winner until, shortly thereafter, the NACC’s new owner shut the doors and he was out of a job. Then, just two weeks later, Bell’s home caught fire.
Now jobless and homeless, with his bearings off course once again, Bell had to decide what to do next. His mother heard about Helms College’s culinary program and gave Bell the application she picked up during a visit to the campus. He thought it would be the right change in direction and decided to give it a shot.
Helms provided just what Bell needed to bring calm to his life and allowed him to go back to what he knew 20 years ago as a child helping his mother and grandmother in the kitchen. The hands-on training Bell received at Helms College provided a quick and easy-to-remember recipe for his success in the culinary field, turning an internship with the Augusta Country Club into a permanent position after only two weeks. Bell has found his niche in the kitchen at ACC. “I fill in where needed,” he said “I’m kind of the chef’s go-to…it challenges me and I like it.”
After graduating from Helms in December 2013, Bell says, “My life now is consistent and stable with a new place and working on my culinary certifications.” Bell has since worked at the prestigious Reserve Club at Woodside Plantation in Aiken, S.C., and recently was named Executive Chef.
Bell encourages those down on their luck and without direction, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You need to be persistent and constantly pursue opportunities.”