JWU Announces Winner of First Mary Ann Esposito Foundation Scholarship

Lila Cornelio of Chicago will receive $10,000 in financial aid for her final two years of culinary studies

Providence, RI - Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito, America’s longest running cooking show, and Johnson & Wales University announced today that Lila Cornelio of Chicago, IL is the winner of the first Mary Ann Esposito Foundation Scholarship in the amount of $10,000.

The Mary Ann Esposito Foundation Scholarship provides financial aid to students at Johnson & Wales to help them achieve their dream of working in the culinary arts. The scholarship provides $10,000 to a student interested in pursuing a career that involves Italian cuisine.

“It is my hope that, for years to come, this scholarship will help the next generation of America’s best chefs develop their passion for authentic, traditional Italian cuisine,” explained Mary Ann Esposito. “Johnson & Wales has a reputation for providing not only an excellent culinary education, but also for helping its students launch their careers, so it was an obvious home for this award. I could not be more proud to work with them to give deserving students the opportunity to turn their passion for food into their life’s work.”

In addition to the funding, the scholarship provides Cornelio, 20, a culinary nutrition major in the College of Culinary Arts at the Providence Campus of Johnson & Wales, with the opportunity to be mentored by Esposito through the production of her TV show, Ciao Italia, which is filmed in Rhode Island.

“I am very honored to have received this scholarship,” said Cornelio. “I have always been impressed by Mrs. Esposito and the way in which her Italian heritage and passion for cooking have influenced her career. Growing up in a traditional Mexican household, I appreciate her ability to stay true to her roots. Her support and her mentorship will go a long way towards helping me make my dreams a reality.”

Cornelio previously completed an internship project at Rick Bayless’s well-known Frontera Grill in Chicago. She was born in Evanston, IL and grew up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. She is a member of the school’s varsity cross country team.

"The university has shared a longtime relationship with Mary Ann, and she has made a positive impact on many of our students over these years by inviting them to experience the behind-the-scenes excitement of her show,” Chef Steven Shipley, director of development and alumni relations, Providence Campus said. "She is an example of where passion, commitment, and sincerity can take you in this profession. We are grateful that she has extended her support through the establishment of a scholarship fund that will undoubtedly benefit our students."

Johnson & Wales University, founded in 1914, is a nonprofit, private institution. A recognized leader in career education, the university offers accredited degrees in business, hospitality, culinary arts, technology and education. With a diverse student body of more than 16,000 graduate and undergraduate students, representing all 50 states and 89 countries, JWU prepares students for personal and professional success by integrating rigorous academics and professional skills, community leadership opportunities, and our unique career education model. The university is committed to urban revitalization and thoughtful historic renovation. Through active civic participation and by offering unique learning opportunities, JWU improves the quality of life in its campus communities in Providence, R.I., North Miami, Fla., Denver, Colo., and Charlotte, N.C. For more information visit www.jwu.edu.