Domino to graduate with 9 college credits, 3 certifications
Posted on 02/23/2021

McDonogh 35 senior Taiquan Domino is set to make history this May.

Domino will be the first Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts dual enrollment student of the New Orleans Career Center (NOCC) to graduate with not only three industry certifications, but also nine college credits in hospitality from Delgado Community College.

“It feels great,” Domino said of his accomplishment. “It’s been a lot of working hard and staying focused on my end.”

As a dual enrolment student, Domino spends half his day attending classes at McDonogh 35 Senior High School and then half his day at NOCC, which incorporates his Delgado classes into the program.

The NOCC program is designed to prepare trainees to become skilled leaders in the local and global hospitality industry and provides students with hands-on experience and the readiness to enter a career in the industry.

“It’s been great. I love the program,” he said. “I just love cooking and being able to express myself through food and connect people through food.” 

Domino, who has aspirations to one day open his own catering restaurant, began the program his junior year, during which he became a Certified Hospitality and Tourism Management, Certified Guest Service Profession, and Certified ServSafe Food Handler, while also earning three college credits. This year, in addition to finishing his high school requirements and the NOCC program, he will also be earning six college credits.

“Taiquan is a great student, but I really saw a spark in his eyes when he started at NOCC,” McDonogh 35 Senior Counselor Alisha Foucha Mercadel said. “He is so happy, and this program has motivated him so much to pursue his dreams of being a chef and having his own restaurant one day.  Seeing his growth over the last two years is incredible. I know he is going to go places because this is something he really loves doing and, on top of all, he is a really great young man.”

Though he initially began as a student in NOCC’s medical assistant program, Domino quickly realized his passion resided with the culinary arts.

“I’ve always loved cooking. I remember being in the kitchen with my mom and my great grandmother growing up,” he said. “Even then I would get a lot of compliments on my cooking.”

NOCC Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Program Director Brooke Berry said Taiquan is a natural leader in the kitchen. 

“His love of culinary arts is evident in the way he uses his creativity and palate to make recipes his own. He is always rummaging through the pantry and fridge seeing what he could create,” said Program Director Brooke Berry. “I know that he is passionate about cooking, and I have no doubt his dedication in the kitchen and scholastic achievements has him on a path to one day becoming a successful chef.” 

Domino said one of the highlights of the program is being able to meet and develop relationships with industry partners.

“I really appreciate the experience of being able to meet different people in different industries,” he said, specifically saying his experience with the people at We Dat food truck has been invaluable. “To me, this is the best program out there. It’s helped me with everything from a professional aspect.”

Both the staff at McDonogh 35 and NOCC expect great things from this exceptional student.

“Taiquan is a really great kid. He quickly realized he wanted to work in the culinary arts and dedicated himself to the program,” Deputy Director and Principal of NOCC Carlin Jacobs said. “I really enjoy watching him grow, and I am happy I can be a part of his journey.”

Foucha Mercadel agreed, adding, “We couldn’t be prouder of him, and I’m very excited for him. He’s going to do great things, and I can’t wait to eat at Taiquan D’s!”